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Was the Gay Protest of Holy Name Cathedral Misguided?

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on Feb 16, 2010 7:20PM

Photo Gay Liberation Network
The Gay Liberation Network, Chicago's grassroots LGBT advocacy organization, reports some 100 protesters showed up on Sunday, Valentine's Day, for a picket outside of the Holy Name Cathedral's morning services. Emboldened by Chicago Archbishop Cardinal George's recent condemnation of a gay-positive ministry as inauthentic to Catholic teachings, protesters sought to highlight the role the church has played in blocking legal victories for LGBT people.

"We want to drag the church's bigotry out of the closet," GLN co-founder Andy Thayer told the Trib. "For many years the Catholic leadership has attempted to fly under the radar screen with its opposition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality."

Protesters reportedly chanted "Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia has got to go!" and "Holy Name, holy shame!" to the annoyance of churchgoers. One account we received described the "angry, misguided" scene in great detail. After attempts to "engage the protesters in dialogue" while distributing hand-made Valentines and "a recorded lecture .. regarding the historical and theological context of marriage," a churchgoer reported coming up close and personal with a particularly angry protester: "[T]here was literally frothy saliva visibly draining from the corners of her mouth."

The account was written by Nora Doherty, described in the e-mail received as a Holy Name parishioner and member of the church's Young Adult Board. What the original e-mail did not disclose, however, was Doherty's history as a pro-life activist known for counseling women out of abortions outside of clinics. The release also did not disclose that Doherty is an attorney, as this Catholic blog reports, nor that she is a "friend" of Thomas More Society, who sponsored the release.

Thomas More Society is a pro-life law center that has been active opposing protest-free "bubble zones" surrounding abortion clinics and denouncing gay marriage. Thomas More is a client of TC Public Relations, the agency which originally contacted us with the story. That agency also represents the Pro-Life Action League and Mauck & Baker, a law firm "devoted to expanding the Kingdom of God," alongside other faith-associated publishers listed among their clients. Mauck & Baker senior member Andy Norman has previously defended anti-gay protesters at the 2006 Gay Games.

Who's the David and who's the Goliath? Was the Holy Name protest a drooling, misguided effort, as the mom-attorney-activist Doherty describes? Or do Thayer and company have a point in their quest against Cardinal George and his hard-working, equality-denying publicity team?