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Wednesday, January 16 2013

Catholics for Equality Joins the Fight to Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell

 

Walker Burttschell

Catholics for Equality Joins the Fight to Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell

 

Group Reaches Out to Archbishop of the Military and Brings

Gay and Lesbian Catholic Soldiers to Capitol Hill to put a Catholic Face to Discrimination

 

WASHINGTON - Catholics for Equality, took action this week as a newly founded Catholic group dedicated to amplifying the voices of Catholics who support fair laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. First actions included outreach to Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services in the United States of America and meetings with key senators and Catholic leaders on Capitol Hill, calling for a repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

In a letter sent today, Catholics for Equality, requested a meeting with Archbishop Broglio to address inaccurate and misleading statements made in a June 1, 2010, statement against the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. In the statement Archbishop Broglio argued against the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell by comparing gay servicemembers to alcoholics and makes other misleading and false arguments such as, overturning discrimination in our armed forces would force Catholic Chaplains to perform same sex marriages.

"Archbishop Broglio's arguments are based on outdated concepts not facts," says Acting Executive Director Phil Attey. "No legislation would ever be considered that would force a military chaplain to perform duties, contrary to their faith. Further, the Archbishop's comparisons of gay people to alcoholics shows a profound ignorance of American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association standards of which every pastoral counselor should be aware."

Yesterday, through a lobbying effort sponsored by Servicemembers United, leaders of Catholics for Equality walked the halls of Congress calling on key Senators and Catholic leaders to support the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

"Speaking out as pro-equality Catholics is so important to the legislative process," said Former State Legislator and Catholics for Equality Board Member Patsy Trujillo. "We are confident that Senators will honor dedication and patriotism when they see it and are proud to have helped these brave soldiers make sure their voices are heard. Further, we trust our Catholic Senators will vote in their conscience and the will of the pro-equality Catholics in their state, and not the misinformed dictates of Rome."

Bill Hillegist, Rev. Dr Joseph Palacios, Michael Holtz, Phil Attey & Dylan Knapp

Bill Hillegeist, Rev. Dr Joseph Palacios, Michael Holtz, Phil Attey & Dylan Knapp

Catholics for Equality brought Catholic soldiers, gay and non-gay, representing the spectrum of voices affected by Don't Ask Don't Tell, to tell their stories and put a Catholic face to the issue. One soldier, Walker Burtschell of Florida, explained how Don't Ask Don't Tell not only ended his career, but almost ended his life.

 

Walker BurttschellWalker Burtschell

"Being discharged and being outted to my family was just not an option and I felt my life was about to end," said Brutschell. "I was hospitalized at Camp Lejeune's hospital and put on suicide watch. Because of the messages I grew up receiving from the Church, I didn't feel I could turn to our Catholic Chaplain, and instead met with a psychiatrist who I didn't think would judge me the way a priest would. I felt comfortable enough to admit my sexual orientation to him, feeling confident that there existed some form of patient/physician confidentiality. Sadly, it was his comments in my medical records that would out me to the Corps." (see full story)

"The overwhelming majority of American Catholics support allowing soldiers like Walker to openly serve in the U.S. Armed Forces," said Rev. Dr. Joseph Palacios, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University and a founding board member of Catholics for Equality. "78% of all Americans are for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The most recent survey of Catholics in 2006 showed that 66% of Catholics favored gays and lesbians serving in the military - a number we believe is significantly higher now in 2010."

Catholics for Equality will work to provide accurate information and support to Catholic Members of Congress and related religious leaders as they navigate productive ways to be faithful Catholics who defend the freedoms and liberties of all Americans, including our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.

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Catholics for Equality empowers pro-equality Catholics to put our faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families.

Catholics for Equality was founded in 2010 to support, educate, and mobilize Catholics in the advancement of freedom and equality at the federal, state, and local levels for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family, parish and community members.


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