by James Tillman
CHICAGO, February 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Last Valentine’s day, Feb 14, Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral offered married couples a chance to celebrate their spousal fidelity by renewing their vows to each other during Mass. Yet in order to do so, couples had to pass through an angry crowd of "gay rights" protestors who marched by the steps of the cathedral, accusing Church hierarchy of hatred toward gays and telling parishioners to "stop funding the bigots!"
Police refused to interrupt the demonstration, despite laws that prohibit protesting near places of worship while services are ongoing.
Chicago lawyer Nora Doherty, who was present during the demonstration, recounted via Renew America’s Matt Abbott how "one of the particularly angry protesters yelled at my three-year-old daughter, ‘Little girl, I hope you grow up to be gay so that your mother will disown you and you can know how I feel!’”
"There were some kinder protesters standing next to her trying to make excuses for her behavior," she continued, "but she was inexcusably uncivilized and there was literally frothy saliva visibly draining from the corners of her mouth."
The demonstration was organized by the Gay Liberation Network (GLN), which proclaims that the protest was meant "to draw attention to the Catholic hierarchy’s continued opposition to equal rights within the church and in society at large."
In particular, the protest was intended to target Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, current President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the "anti-civil rights posture of the current Pope."
"We want to drag the Church’s bigotry out of the closet," Andy Thayer, a well-known militant co-founder of the group, told the Chicago Tribune.
At one point, a speaker with a microphone and blow-horn asserted that "the Catholic hierarchy, particularly in the Knights of Columbus [sic] and the organization of bishops, have regularly been clear that they want people who love people of the same gender ... to stay in the closet; also, to not get jobs."
Protestors held signs proclaiming "the Pope is anti-women and anti-gay," "anti-equal Rights =‘s hate," and "love transcends doctrine." They also chanted "Holy Name, Holy Shame," "Stop the harm. Stop the hate. Separate the Church and State!" and other similar mantras. The noise was audible from within the church.
The Chicago Municipal Code states that someone is punishable for disorderly conduct whenever he "pickets or demonstrates on a public way within 150 feet of any church, temple, synagogue or other place of worship while services are being conducted."
When Doherty asked an officer why they were permitting the protest to continue immediately outside the cathedral, she recounts, he "said that the organizer of the protest currently has 20 lawsuits pending against the city of Chicago and he tends to name officers personally as defendants in his civil suits."
For this reason, says Doherty, he went on to say that "unless the Commander gave explicit instructions to move the protestors to the other side of the street, he intended to do nothing."
Ironically, Chicago rigorously enforces protection of its abortion mills with the "bubble zone" ordinance, which prohibits pro-life counselors within 50 feet of an abortion facility from approaching within 8 feet of an individual entering the facility, without that individual’s explicit consent.
Holy Name Cathedral’s pastor has asked the archdiocese to look into why Chicago police allowed the demonstration to take place.
Colleen Dolan, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said that the protestors’ efforts were misguided.
"They may not like it, but it’s the teaching of the Church that marriage is between one man and one woman," she said. “Those of us in the Church don’t get to choose what the teachings are."