Catholicism and Homosexuality in the U.S.: Timeline

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1969 Early Father Patrick X. Nidorf, O.S.A., an Augustinian priest and psychologist, starts a ministry for gay and lesbian Catholics as an extension of his professional work in San Diego, California. This is the beginning of Dignity, an organization of gay and lesbian Catholics that still exists today. [1]

1970 May Dignity drafts the first copy of its Statement of Position and Purpose. [2]

1971 March The first national Dignity newsletter is published, with Bob Fournier as Editor. [3]

1974 April The Archdiocese of New York calls on the New York City Council to reject a proposed antidiscrimination bill aimed at gays and lesbians in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations, because it is “contrary to the best interests of society” and will “damage the true civil rights cause in this city.” A firestorm of controversy follows, with the NYPD, Fire Department, and the Brooklyn Diocese all joining with the Archdiocese to oppose the bill, while gay activists, including Dignity, hold several demonstrations in favor of it. The bill, once considered a sure pass, ultimately fails to pass City Council with a vote of 22-19 as the council members express fear of public reaction. [NYT 04/28/1974 p41]

October A Catholic church in Chicago holds a special mass to celebrate the relationship between “the church and the homophile community.” While Chicago’s Archbishop, John Cardinal Cody keeps “a safe distance” from the service, it is described as the only “worship service conducted specifically for gay Catholics in a diocesan church with the full knowledge, if not tacit support, of the area’s top prelate.” [CT 10/19/1974 pA15]

1975 August A “major sex study” conducted by the Catholic Theological Society of America draws attention a year before its results are even scheduled to be published. According to the priest who lead it, the study which is expected to discuss birth control, premarital sex, masturbation, and homosexuality, will ‘shock and upset some” while being “encouraging to many others.” He did, however, “strenuously” deny that the study will tacitly approve of homosexuality, which had been previously reported in the Advocate. [CT 08/09/1975 pB6]

September Dignity holds a conference in Boston to promote a more positive view of homosexuals in the Roman Catholic Church. The conference is attended by over 400 people. [NYT 09/03/1975 p50]


1976 January Rev. Richard Grinder, a gay priest who has previously been subject of a sex scandal, authors a book in which he disputes many of the Church’s teachings on sexuality and outlines a theology that allows for homosexuality. After appearing on the “Phil Donohue Show” to discuss the book, Father Grinder is faced with ecclesiastical charges for “‘public scandal, unorthodox teaching, and unorthodox pastoral practices.’” [CT 01/29/1976 pB11]

January The Vatican publishes a statement on sex that reiterates the Roman Catholic Church’s positions on the immorality of sex outside of marriage, birth control, and homosexuality, which it calls ‘intrinsically disordered.’” The Archbishop of Canterbury later calls the Vatican report as “‘somewhat lacking in pastoral guidance and tenderness toward those who find these problems quite agonizing.” [NYT 01/16/1976 p61; CT 02/14/1976 pB10; CT 08/31/1976 pB9]

February Bishop Francis Mugavero of the Diocese of Brooklyn issues a “pastoral letter defending the ‘legitimate’ rights of all people including homosexuals,” and urging “‘priests, counselors, and others to express concern and compassion for those…who experience pain and confusion due to a sexual orientation.” The letter furthermore “urge[s] homosexual men and women to avoid identifying their personhood with their sexual orientations,” and states that homosexuality should not be one’s claim to “acceptance or human rights.” Mugavero’s congregation later comes out in support of his statements. [NYT 02/22/1976 p1; CT 02/22/1976 p5; NYT 02/23/1976 p18; NYT 02/27/1976 p23]

February The New York Times runs an article on Dignity as a response to the Vatican’s recent statement on homosexuality. [NYT 02/22/1976 p26]

August Rev. John McNeill, a Jesuit priest from New York, publishes a book entitled The Church and the Homosexual that defends the morality of homosexual relationships and urges the Church to evaluate both heterosexual and homosexual relationships according to the “same ethical standards of mutual love.” The Vatican later orders McNeill to remain silent on the subject, which prompts a group of “Roman Catholic priests, sisters, and lay people” to call upon the national Church hierarchy to ‘do everything in your power to reverse’” the action. In 1986, McNeill is expelled from the Jesuit order over his actions. [NYT 12/28/1975 p32; NYT 08/31/1976 p22; CT 08/31/1976 pB9; NYT 09/02/1977 p34; CT 10/22/1977 pA15; CT 11/08/1986 p4]

October Dignity is officially invited to participate in “Call to Action: U.S. Bishops’ Conference on Liberty and Justice for All” in Detroit. The conference is designed to formulate a five-year plan of social action for the nations’ bishops and is attended by 1400 organizations, as well as bishops from 110 dioceses. Brian McNaught is the sole openly gay delegate representing Dignity at the conference, though other members of Dignity/Detroit are present to lobby in support of Dignity’s resolutions. [4]

November After its meeting, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops releases a pastoral letter reaffirming the Church’s “traditional teachings” on homosexuality, birth control, and divorce. The letter, however, states that “homosexual activity,” not homosexual orientation, is “wrong.” [CT 11/12/1976 p20]

1977 January Dignity sends letters to all Roman Catholic members of the House of Representatives urging them to support the national gay rights bill. [5]

May The National Conference of Catholic Bishops faces one of its most controversial agendas as it takes up proposals concerning the elimination of discrimination against homosexuals, as well birth control, ordaining women, and divorce. [05/01/1977 p36]

1979 October Pope John Paul II “firmly defends” the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional stance on sexual issues including “homosexual practice,” contraception, divorce, and premarital and extramarital sexual relations, at an appearance in Chicago. [NYT 10/06/1979 p1]

1981 May Chicago Bishop John Cardinal Cody prohibits a North Side parish from hosting a seminar on “Homosexuality and the Hurting Parent.” He is subsequently denied permission to hold the seminar at a Chicago Episcopal church as well before finding a home at a different Episcopal facility. [CT 05/01/1981 p3; CT 05/02/1981 pS6; CT 05/07/1981 p11]

July The Chicago Tribune runs an article on the Chicago branch of Dignity and mentions that the organization has over 100 chapters. [CT 07/19/1981 pI6]

November The Archdiocese of New York is among the vocal opponents of a new antidiscrimination bill currently before the New York City Council. [NYT 11/21/1981 p29]

1982 Undated A task force studying gay and lesbian issues in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco publishes “Homosexuality and Social Justice” which is supportive of homosexuals. [CT 05/15/1983 pM4]

September A group of Roman Catholic “priests, nuns, and lay leaders” in San Francisco issue a proposal urging the opening of church doors to “practicing homosexuals,” igniting a controversy. [NYT 09/26/1982 p28]

December The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco praises Mayor Dianne Feinstein’s veto of a bill that would extend benefits to live-in partnerships as a “‘courageous act.’” [NYT 12/10/1982 pA17]

1983 June A coalition of Catholic groups protest the NYC Gay Pride Parade as well as successfully lobby the city to prevent Dignity from standing on the steps of St Patrick’s Cathedral during the parade, as they have done in previous years. [NYT 06/27/1983 pB3]

October New York Governor Cuomo meets with several religious leaders, including representatives from the Catholic and Jewish faiths, who urge him not to pass a gay rights bill, which was one of his campaign promises. Governor Cuomo argues with the group, but assures them that the bill he hopes to pass is “far narrower” than the eight previous proposals that have failed to pass New York City Council. [NYT 10/28/83 pB4]

December The Vatican releases a set of guidelines on sexual education, entitled “Educational Guidance in Human Love,” that, among other subjects, refers to homosexuality as a “social maladaptation” and “a disorder” that priests must treat with “understanding” but without offering “moral justification.” [NYT 12/02/1983 A1 and A6]

1984 March-December The Archdiocese of New York sues the city of New York after Mayor Koch issues an executive order prohibiting any institution with city contracts from discriminating against gays and lesbians. This opens a very lengthy and passionate controversy between the city and its religious institutions. The case, which is in litigation for over a year, goes to the State Supreme Court where it is ruled that Mayor Koch overstepped the boundaries of his authority in issuing the order. This controversy ignites a long-lasting and widely publicized “feud” between Mayor Koch and Governor Cuomo and Archbishop O’Connor. [CT 03/27/1984 p5; CT 06/20/1984 pD6; CT 06/21/1984 pA5; CT 06/30/1984 p3; NYT 03/03/1984 p1; NYT 06/06/1984 pA25; NYT 06/18/1984 pA1; NYT 06/25/1984 pB3; NYT 06/30/1984 p28; NYT 07/08/1984 p19; NYT 08/15/1984 pB3; NYT 09/06/1984 pA1; NYT 09/24/1984 pB3; NYT 10/14/1984 pSM38; NYT 10/21/1984 pB10; NYT 10/26/1984 pB4; NYT 10/30/1984 pB3; NYT 11/04/1984 p56; NYT 11/07/1984 pA26; NYT 11/16/1984 pB3; NYT 12/15/1984 p22; NYT 12/27/1984 pB3]

April The Diocese of New Orleans has a major hand in the defeat of an antidiscrimination ordinance in the city, when it issues a statement threatening to petition for the bill’s repeal should it pass. The Diocese states that it could only support a bill that protects against discrimination in public accommodations, but not employment or housing. [NYT 04/15/1984 p21]

September New York City Archbishop John J. O’Connor announces that he has met with leaders of the “homosexual community” and will soon release a “’comprehensive statement’ on the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.” [NYT 09/24/1984 pB3]

1985 February Representatives from the Catholic church join with Protestant and Jewish leaders for an “interfaith forum on religion and AIDS.” A joint statement is released calling on religious individuals to treat those with AIDS with compassion, not judgment. [NYT 02/24/1985 p33]

July The District of Columbia Court of Appeals rules that Georgetown University, which has Roman Catholic affiliations, cannot refuse recognition of a homosexual student group. The university had argued that requiring it to recognize the group would be “an unconstitutional infringement of its Roman Catholic beliefs.” [NYT 07/31/1985 pB4]

August The Archdiocese of New York announces that it is preparing a “‘comprehensive plan for the study and care of AIDS patients’” and that it will open a shelter for patients in a vacant convent. [NYT 08/21/1985 pB3]

September The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, RI comes out in opposition to an antidiscrimination ordinance in the city, ultimately influencing the city council to vote against the bill though it was originally expected to pass. [NYT 09/01/1985 p25; NYT 09/06/1985 pB7]

September The Archdiocese of St Paul-Minneapolis, MN refuses to allow a “homosexual rights conference” to be held in a St. Paul Catholic church. [NYT 09/30/1985 pB12]

1986 February Representing a shift in view, Cardinal Mugavero, the Archbishop of Brooklyn, joins with Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, to oppose an employment and housing antidiscrimination ordinance in New York City, calling it “‘exceedingly dangerous to our society.’” Mugavero, who did not support the Archdiocese of New York’s lawsuit against the city, says that he is now joining with O’Connor because “for the first time, [the bill’s] passage seem[s] a possibility.” [NYT 02/07/1986 pB4]

March After 15 years of attempts, the New York City Council approves a “gay rights” bill by a margin of 22-14. The Archbishop of New York, who preached a sermon devoted to homosexuality the previous Sunday, immediately issues a statement claiming that the bill is “‘detrimental to society’” and that the Archdiocese is “seeking legal counsel” as to how to go about getting the bill overturned. [NYT 03/17/1986 pB3; NYT 03/21/1986 pA1]

July The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announces its opposition to a proposed comprehensive gay rights ordinance in Chicago because of concern that the ordinance might “infringe on the right of the church to present and practice its moral teachings.” After the Archdiocese announces its position, the city council drops the proposal for the ordinance for fear that it now be defeated. This launches a lengthy and passionate controversy in the city between representatives of the Church and gay activists, which includes meetings between the two groups, comments of support for the ordinance by members of other religious groups and a candlelight vigil of over 3,000 people. The ordinance ultimately comes to vote and fails to pass, leading Cardinal Bernardin to be subject of much blame by pro-gay activists. [NYT 06/30/1986 pA12; CT 07/09/1986 pA3; CT 07/10/1986 p1; CT 07/11/1986 pA1; CT 07/12/1986 p5; CT 07/14/1986 pA1; CT 07/17/1986 p1; CT 07/18/1986 pA8; CT 07/20/1986 pA4; CT 07/21/1986 pA1; CT 07/23/1986 pA1; CT 07/25/1986 pA5; CT 07/29/1986 pA1; CT 08/15/1986 pA1; ]

August Rev. Charles Curran, professor at the Catholic University of America, has his teaching privileges revoked by the Vatican for refusing to rescind his statements that the Church’s position on sexual issues such as homosexuality and birth control should not be “absolute.” [NYT 08/19/1986 pA1; NYT 08/20/1986 pA10]

October Chicago Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernardin releases a statement that mandates “pastoral initiatives” in response to the AIDS crisis, which include the establishment of an office on “pastoral care” for AIDS and the compiling of “accurate information.” The statement also states that it is “unfortunate” that many gays and lesbians have heard within the church’s “efforts to teach the wrongness of homosexual acts…the sound of condemnation and rejection.” Bernardin also rejects the claims by other religious figures who claim that AIDS is a form of divine retribution, stating instead that “AIDS is a ‘human disease.’” [CT 10/24/1986 p1; CT 10/27/1986 pA3]

October The Vatican releases new guidelines on homosexuality that instruct priests to encourage homosexuals to receive sacraments but also to understand the immorality of homosexual acts and remain celibate for “as long as they feel a homosexual tendency.” The statement also instructs that “psychological and medical factors” should be taken into consideration in “dealing” with homosexuals, and urges “greater vigilance in opposing the ‘deceitful propaganda’ of pro-homosexual groups.” [NYT 10/29/1986 pA12; CT 10/29/1986 p5; CT 10/31/1986 p1]

December The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles refuses to allow an AIDS education group to host seminars in its churches because the group “condone[s] the use of condoms,” which the Archbishop claims “implies either heterosexual promiscuity or homosexual activity,” neither of which the Church “condones.” [NYT 12/08/1986 pB14]

1987 February Bishop Mugavero of the Brooklyn Diocese announces that any groups that “condone homosexual activity” will be barred from using church facilities in Brooklyn and Queens, and asks priests to “‘withdraw any support which may in the past have been given to Dignity or similar groups.’” Archbishop O’Connor of the Archdiocese of New York later voices his support of Mugavero’s ban on Dignity. [NYT 02/13/1987 pA1; NYT 02/16/1987 p31]

March Archbishop O’Connor of New York demands that the Jesuit church in Manhattan that has offered a special mass for Dignity members since 1979 stop doing so. The 1,000 member group holds its last service two days later, but several members protest the decision by wearing lavender armbands and standing silently during Archbishop O’Connor’s sermon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. [NYT 03/06/1987 pB3; NYT 03/09/1987 pB3; NYT 03/16/1987 pB5]

March

The United States Supreme Court upholds the rights of Dignity members to protest in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. [NYT 03/10/1987 pB3]

May A gay rights bill passes the Massachusetts House of Representatives after 14 years of delay, largely at the hands of the local Catholic Church. The bill still must pass the state Senate. [NYT 05/10/1987 p36]

July Several feminist, gay rights, and other organizations, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, announce plans to protest the Pope’s upcoming visit to the United States. [NYT 06/24/1987 pD19]

July Over 300 people protest at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City over President Regan’s appointing Archbishop O’Connor to serve on a national AIDS commission. O’Connor subsequently releases a statement defending his position and affirming “the sacredness” of each individual, even if one’s sexual orientation differs from Catholic teaching. [NYT 07/27/1987 pB3; NYT 07/31/1987 pA12]

September Over 2,000 individuals protest the Pope’s visit to San Francisco. In response, he stresses God’s forgiveness, with special reference to those with AIDS. [NYT 09/18/1987 pA16]

December Eleven gay activists are arrested in an act of civil disobedience when they stand silently during Cardinal O’Connor’s homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and refuse to be seated or leave the premises. [NYT 12/07/1987 pB1]

December In their first statement on AIDS, the administrative board of the United States Catholic Conference offers some degree of support for discussion of condoms as a preventive measure in sex education, although it also insists that it is not “promoting the use of prophylactics” and that “the only ‘morally correct and medically sure ways’” to avoid acquiring AIDS are abstinence and/or marital fidelity. Several bishops from major cities release statements of their own in response to the board’s paper, including NYC Archbishop O’Connor who claims that “such instruction” will not be allowed in his churches, and Chicago Archbishop Bernardin who praises the paper for being both “‘faithful’” and “sensitive.’” [NYT 12/11/1987 pA1; NYT 12/17/1987 pB25]

1988 January About 35 members of Dignity return to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City to protest having their special mass banned by Archbishop O’Connor. None are arrested this time as the protesters remain at the back of the church “kneeling, singing, and praying.” [NYT 01/04/1988 pB3] January Vatican officials explain the Pope’s virtual silence on the AIDS crisis by attributing the epidemic to “widespread moral permissiveness which the Roman Catholic Church has condemned repeatedly in clear-cut terms.” [NYT 01/29/1988 pA1]

September Archbishop O’Connor of New York condemns a recent wave of gay beatings as “stupid, ignorant, and malicious,” stating that those who perpetuate such acts are “‘doing violence against Christ Himself,” and that anyone who thinks that such violence is condoned by church teachings is “‘grossly ignorant of what the church actually teaches.’” [NYT 09/12/1988 pB3]

October Ten members of the Cathedral Project are arrested for disorderly conduct after they lay down on Fifth Avenue in front of NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in protest of Cardinal O’Connor’s anti-homosexual attitude. The archdiocese also obtains an injunction preventing the organization from further pickets or demonstrations outside St. Patrick’s. [NYT 10/03/1988 pB4]

November Archbishop John R. Quinn of the Archdiocese of San Francisco forbids parish priests from performing masses for Dignity. [NYT 12/20/1988 pA13]

December Charles E. Curran, the tenured professor at the Catholic University of America, whose teaching privileges were revoked by the Vatican in 1986 for his positions on issues such as homosexuality and abortion, sues the university for breach of contract. A Washington D.C. court later upholds the university’s right to prevent Professor Curran from teaching theology at the institution. [NYT 12/15/1988 pA27; NYT 03/01/1989 pA18]

1989 September A group of around 100 NYC area Catholics meet to openly discuss homosexuality among clergy members at a conference titled “Our Lesbian and Gay Religious and Clergy.” Yale Professor John Boswell is the keynote speaker. [NYT 09/29/1989 pB2]

December Over 4,500 people, many of which are members of ACT-UP, demonstrate outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City against Cardinal O’Connor’s anti-homosexual and anti-abortion statements. Around 45 protestors enter the church, shouting “We will not be silent,” lying down in the aisles, and chaining themselves to the pews while more lie down in Fifth Avenue. One hundred and eleven of the demonstrators are arrested, many of which have to be carried out on stretchers because of their refusal to stand up. [NYT 12/11/1989 pB1]

1990 February Roman Catholic officials and New York State clash over the treatment of AIDS patients in church-owned and operated hospitals and other facilities. The state accuses the church of jeopardizing the care of patients while Catholic representatives, such as Cardinal O’Connor continue to insist that safe-sex alternatives to abstinence are “morally sinful and medically dangerous.” The State Public Health Council also approves publicly financed, Catholic-run AIDS homes. [NYT 02/23/1990 pB2; NYT 02/24/1990 p29]

June Dignity holds a “kiss-in” at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as part of the annual Gay and Lesbian Pride parade in New York City. [NYT 06/25/1990 pB1]

November Three advocacy groups for people with AIDS file a lawsuit against New York State for exempting Catholic-run homes for AIDS patients from requirements that patients be given condoms, safe-sex counseling, and abortion services. Archbishop O’Connor had previously insisted that the church would refuse to open the homes if they were held to these standards. [NYT 11/28/1990 pB3]

December Fordham University, a Jesuit institution, officially recognizes the student group Fordham Lesbians and Gays, after eleven years of attempts, making it the third Roman Catholic university to recognize a gay student group. [NYT 12/02/1990 p66]

1991 September The New York City Board of Education sides with Mayor David Dinkins in refusing to allow parents any say in whether or not high school students receive condoms at school. Cardinal O’Connor and the Archdiocese of New York had fought vigorously against the policy. [NYT 09/13/1991 pB1; NYT 09/22/1991 pE18]

1992 July The Vactican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith urges American bishops to “scrutinize laws intended to protect homosexuals and oppose them if they “promote public acceptance of homosexual conduct.” The statement also says that “‘There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account,” of which adoption, military service, and teaching are examples. Later, over 1500 members of the Church including 2 bishops comes out publicly against the Vatican’s statement. [NYT 07/18/1992 p7; NYT 11/02/1992 pB11]

August The Oregon Catholic Conference comes out against an anti-gay ballot initiative in Oregon described as the “strongest anti-homosexual measure ever considered by a state,” stating that “‘this proposed constitutional amendment may contribute to attitudes of intolerance and hostility.’” [NYT 08/16/1992 p1]

December About 100 members of ACT-UP and other protestors demonstrate outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City against Cardinal O’Connor’s involvement in opposing the School Board-approved “Children of the Rainbow” curriculum, which would teach tolerance of homosexuality in NYC schools. Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn also voices his opposition to the curriculum, saying that those who teach the “legitima[cy]” of homosexuality are failing to provide “‘moral leadership.’” [NYT 12/14/1992 pB2; NYT 12/28/1992 pB2; see NYT 12/15/1992 pB1 for more information about the controversy]

1993 February Stepping into a passionate and ongoing social and legal controversy in New York City, Cardinal O’Connor announces that Catholic “institutions and organizations” will “shun” the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade if the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization is allowed to march. An Irish-Catholic group, The Ancient Order of Hibernians, vigorously opposes gay and lesbian presence in the parade and has been involved in a legal battle with the city over the issue. [NYT 02/16/1993 pB5]

June Several demonstrators enter St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Manhattan to protest the involvement of homosexuals in the services there. Three of the protesters are arrested, including one who put the priest “into a headlock.” [NYT 06/24/1993 pB5]

July A New York State bill to add gays and lesbians to anti-discrimination laws, which previously passed the State Assembly after 23 years of attempts, is killed in the Republican-controlled Senate. One of the strongest vocal opponents of the bill is the New York State Catholic Conference. [NYT 0703/1993 p21]

August Bishop Daily of Brooklyn issues a statement condemning homophobic discrimination and violence but warning against any laws that might “‘legitimize homosexual activity.’” Several members of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Antiviolence Project engage in a silent protest during Daily’s mass service by displaying “pictures of gay people who had been killed or injured in bias attacks,” and then walking out of the church. [NYT 08/30/1993 pB4]

1994 February Pope John Paul II releases a letter in which he states that same-sex unions are “‘a serious threat to the future of the family and society’” and that they should not “‘be recognized…as a marriage.’” [NYT 02/23/1994 pA2]

1995 June The New York Catholic Conference speaks out against a new HIV-AIDS instructional guide approved by the State Board of Regents because the program “undermines [the Church’s] own abstinence program by talking extensively about condoms.” [NYT 06/10/1995 p25]

June On the day of New York City’s Gay Pride parade, Cardinal O’Connor instructs those attending Mass that “‘most people whose sexual orientation differs from the majority are good, decent people who try to live responsible lives,” urging them not to “judge all homosexuals by the actions of those ‘who may misbehave.’” The same day, Dignity/New York holds its own prayer service outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, insisting “‘we’re a part of the church.’” [NYT 06/26/1995 pA1]

November The Diocese of Portland, Maine come out in opposition of a proposed gay rights bill saying that “‘this referendum is a nuclear bomb when a scalpel is what is needed.’” [NYT 11/05/1995 p30]

1997 February Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco comes out in opposition of an ordinance that requires companies working with the municipal government to offer health and other benefits to unmarried partners, threatening that the Archdiocese might sue the city. [NYT 02/06/1997 p18]

October The National Conference of Catholic Bishops issues a pastoral letter which says that sexual orientation is not “freely chosen” and that parents of gay children “must not reject” their children “in a society full of rejection and discrimination.” The statement, entitled, “Always Our Children,” also states that “‘Sexual identity helps to define the unique person we are. God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual.’” [NYT 10/01/1997 pA14]

1998 May Members of the Catholic Church, among other Christian groups, oppose the repeal of sodomy laws in Rhode Island. A Catholic priest argues that “‘Even your ordinary dictionary calls sodomy a crime against nature.’” [NYT 05/10/1998 p12]

May Cardinal O’Connor condemns a proposal in the New York City Council that would make domestic partners the legal equivalent of married couples, saying that it is a “violation of natural law and a blow to traditional marriage ‘as the first and vital cell of society.’” [NYT 05/25/1998 pA1; NYT 06/03/1998 pB5]

1999 February The Board of Fellows at Notre Dame Unviersity, made up of six bishops and six laypeople, votes unanimously to exclude homosexuality from its antidiscrimination policy. [NYT 02/07/1999 p33]

June The Vatican orders a Maryland priest and nun to end their national ministry to gays and lesbians, in service since the 1970s, because it has “strayed from church teaching that homosexual activity is immoral.” [NYT 06/14/1999 pA14; NYT 09/05/1999 p24; NYT 09/25/1999 pA12]

November The Archdiocese of New York speaks out against a proposed Human Rights Committee in Winchester County, New York that would look into issues of discrimination in housing and employment. The Archdiocese’s Family Life and Respect Life Office disapproves of the commission because it would protect people on the basis of sexual orientation. The Board of Legislators of the county later approves the creation of the commission. [NYT 11/23/1999 pB5; NYT 12/19/1999 pWE8]



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