Why Do They Hate Us?

(Seattle's Mayday for Marriage Rally, May 1, 2004, Safeco Field)

Since I may have been the only diocesan priest in Seattle to attend the Mayday for Marriage Rally, I thought I would jot down a couple of impressions while they are still fresh in my mind.

First of all, I don’t fault any of my brother priests for not being there. It was pretty short notice and most would have weddings or other events scheduled on a Saturday in May. I had to get Fr. Ramón to take the baptisms and Quinceañera Mass in order to attend. I went with a couple of families from the parish, as well as four or five single men. Also with us were some parishioners who would have been more comfortable saying a few decades of the rosary than with the more exuberant style of worship at the event. But apart from style, there was nothing an orthodox Catholic could not participate in.

At the entrance to the Safeco Stadium we encountered about a hundred demonstrators. They held various signs whose common message was, “Why do you hate us ?” A demonstrator shouted at a young mother that she was teaching her children to hate. The small children clutched their mom and asked why the woman was so angry at them.

Beginning with Dr. James Dobson, almost every speaker said something to respond to that charge. A black pastor argued that “gay marriage” is not a civil rights issue. Another pastor asserted that a struggle with same-sex attractions does not mean that one cannot get married. He recounted his own poignant history of, as a child, being called a “faggot” and, as an adult, immersing himself in the gay lifestyle. Thirteen years ago, he came out of the lifestyle, subsequently married and now has two children.

The demonstrators, who filled a small section of stadium, did not seem interested in listening to any of the explanations. They chanted and rhythmically clapped in an attempt to distract and drown out the speakers. I had honestly never seen anything like it. On his blog, Mark Shea makes references to “gay brownshirts.” (The brownshirts were Hitler’s street fighters.) As Mark points out, this phrase does not mean that he is against gays. It means he is against gays who act like brownshirts. By way of contrast, most gays are quite courteous. The ones demonstrating at the Mayday for Marriage rally, on a whole, were not.

The essential quality of a brownshirt is the inability to distinguish between disagreement and hatred. They are not the same thing. Although it is sometimes difficult, it is possible to disagree with someone without hating them. As a Catholic priest, by definition, I disagree with many people: Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Seventh Day Adventists, secular humanists and Evangelical Christians. That does not mean I hate the members those groups. On the other hand, I know many people with same sex attractions with whom I agree profoundly on matters of faith. They are Catholic Christians striving to live Jesus’ teaching on chastity. But even those who disagree with that teaching I do not hate. My hope is that at some point we would be able to discuss why, even though that teaching is extremely difficult for almost every human being, it is nevertheless true and beautiful.

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