Last edited: July 18, 2004

Change of Heart Needed Before Gays Declare Victory

Oak Leaves, July 9, 2003
1140 Lake St., Oak Park, IL 60301
Fax: 708-383-3678

By Chris Lafortune, Staff Writer

While some say the Supreme Court’s decision at the end of June striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law is a good one for homosexuals, not everyone is so pleased with the court’s findings.

Susan Anderson, co-chairwoman of the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association, said the court’s June 26 decision was huge, but it likely did not open the door for gay marriages, as some who object to the decision claim.

“I think that people might be overstating themselves in that,” Anderson said. “Whether it’s the far right who says they’re all going to get married now, I think that they’re doing a little fear mongering there.”

Pilgrim Church held a prayer of Thanksgiving the Sunday following the court’s decision, said senior pastor the Rev. Carla Grosch. The church declared itself an open and affirming community, welcoming and affirming homosexuals, in 1998.

“We prayed for more movement on that front, to end discrimination for gay people and their ability to marry,” Grosch said. “We have a number of gay couples raising children in our congregation, and it’s a great pain to us that they don’t enjoy the benefits of legal marriage that our heterosexual couples do.”

Not everyone found the court’s decision so welcoming. Following the court’s decision, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement criticizing the court’s decision.

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the conference, said human sexuality cannot be viewed as simply a matter of privacy.

“Sexual activity has profound social consequences which are not limited to those immediately engaged in sexual acts,” Gregory said in the conference’s press release. “For this reason, the larger society has always shown a concern about what is and is not acceptable in sexual behavior between individuals.”

That the case came before the Supreme Court was evidence of that concern, Gregory said. Gregory goes on to say that the Catholic church teaches that sexual activity belongs in a marital relationship between a man and woman in fidelity and that respect for the purpose of human sexuality and the family needs reaffirmation.

By a vote of 6-3, the United States Supreme Court declared a Texas statute making it illegal for two people of the same sex to engage in sodomy was a violation of the Due Process Clause.

The case stemmed from the arrest of two Texas men who broke the law and were arrested. Police had come to the house the men were at on a call about a weapons disturbance there.

Right on the heels of the courts decision was the June 1 approval by the Cook County Board of Commissioners to establish a registry for gay and lesbian couples in the county. The board approved of the registry by a vote of 13-3, with one person voting present.

The registry will allow same-sex couples to register their relationship and receive a certificate. It is similar to one established in 1997 in Oak Park.

The registry is good, but Anderson said she still recommends that people make sure all matters, such as real estate ownership, trusts and hospital visitation rights, are in order.

“Make sure that everything’s out there, even for heterosexual people, because wills can be broken,” Anderson said. “Trusts are much more substantial, so make sure you’re covered in all common sense things.”

The Supreme Court’s decision is just a stepping stone on the way to making gay marriages legal, Anderson said. From her own perspective, many battles have been won, but the war continues.

“We won’t win the war until there is a change of heart in people,” she said. “That’s going to take a while.”

Cook County has done a good job of inclusiveness for homosexuals, Anderson said, but the decision on the Texas case will still help people all over.

“How it impacts us directly, that’s going to be a tough question,” Anderson said. “I think, as a group, it’s going to impact us in a positive way.”

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