Catholic League's Publicity Stunt Helps No One, Harms Many

Parishioners from St. Francis Xavier in New York City march in the 2013 Pride Parade.

St. Patrick’s Day parades in Boston and New York drew fire a week ago for excluding LGBT organizations from marching. These actions led many to skip the parades, and corporate sponsors, including the brewers of Guinness, withdrew their support. In response to the corporate actions, Bill Donohue of the Catholic Leaguefor Civil and Religious Rights  launched a week-long publicity stunt attacking those who stood up for LGBT inclusion in the parade controversies.

Initially, Donohue had called for a boycott of Guinness, Sam Adams, and Heineken, all who had withdrawn St. Patrick’s Day parade support. According to Time, Donohue called the LGBT groups who wanted to march in St. Patrick’s Day parades “bullies.” Donohue escalated the hysteria when he declared his intent to march in New York’s Pride parade under a banner which would say, “Straight is Great.”  With each day, new headlines broke on this story: GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis invited Donohue to march with her during Pride, NYC Pride announced it would welcome the Catholic League to the 2014 March, and, finally, Donohue announced he would not be marching after all.

Of this final news, Jamie Manson of the National Catholic Reporter writes:

“File this one under, ‘Why am I not surprised?’…

“In a statement on Saturday, Donohue put his cards on the table, admitting that the purpose of his request “was to see just how far they would go without forcing me to abide by their rules.”

“Donohue was attempting to draw a parallel between the Pride March and the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which continues to ban gay and lesbian organizations from participating.

“But this latest publicity stunt backfired on him when, perhaps to his surprise, Pride organizers warmly welcomed him.

“Looking for a way out of his parade charade, Donohue complained that the Pride March would require him to attend a mandatory information and safety session. The session, which is meant to ensure a smooth and safe event, is a prerequisite for all participating organizations.

“In an particularly juvenile move, Donohue characterized the safety training sessions as ‘gay training sessions.’ “

The entire situation would be comical if not so toxic. Donohue’s public history is rabidly anti-LGBT. More than merely opposing marriage equality or nondiscrimination rights, he makes vile insinuations about gay and transgender people, as he pays no attention to Catholic teachings about respect and human dignity. And for all this, The New Civil Rights Movement reports he makes more than $400,000 annually.

Unfortunately, the outlandish public persona of Bill Donohue is appealing to some in the media, and the actions of this one man are greatly amplified. Even though, in this instance, it was wildly apparent his plan backfired, his actions hindered efforts to promote understanding of LGBT people in the Church. Worse, it perpetuates an idea that Bill Donohue’s vitriolic anti-gay behavior represents the Catholic community when, in reality, most American Catholics support LGBT people and their full inclusion into society.

Next time Bill Donohue makes a fuss, it would be best for the media to leave him alone

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

5 replies
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    Donohue is clearly our own knock-off version of the late Fred Phelps! Perhaps someone should remind him of Pope Francis’ now-famous exhortation, in speaking about GLBT Catholics, with particular (but not exclusive) reference to gay clergy: “Who am I to judge”? The scariest part is that he and Justice Scalia are ideological “Siamese Twins” — but Scalia has genuine executive power, while Donohue has little or none. He’s basically just an amusing (if unfortunate and unseemly) sideshow in the domain of homophobic bigotry.

  2. leanore anastasio
    leanore anastasio says:

    I have consistently thought Donohue a loud-mouthed straight (pardon the pun) . Glad his antic proved to be blatantly worthless here.

  3. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    ” his actions hindered efforts to promote understanding of LGBT people in the Church. ” I think his actions were an opportunity for this LGBT organization to show what it’s “made of”… compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, welcome …. things the rest of us could practice more.


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