Re: Should I be forced to celebrate Thanksgiving with a gay "married" couple?
My sister-in-law invited her gay brother and his "husband," who are "married" -- as defined by our judicial system here in Massachusetts. There will be about twelve adults and ten children attending, children ages 13-19. I have a big problem with this being forced on me and am not going to be with my family this Thanksgiving. I feel that it is thrust upon me and confusing the children about what we believe as Catholics. I'd like to do the charitable route and go, but I feel I must stand up for what we believe and be a witness of our faith to both the adults and the kids. What do you think?
Michelle Arnold's Response:
Before I get to the point at which I basically agree with you, which I plan to do, let's first look at this from your sister-in-law's point of view.
Thanksgiving is a family holiday, one at which your sister-in-law evidently has taken responsibility to host for her husband's family -- a family that, by your estimation, will include over twenty people. Is it surprising that your sister-in-law would like to include her family in this celebration by inviting her own brother to the event? If she is not Catholic, or is not convinced of the Catholic position on homosexuality, she may even consider it rude not to invite her brother and his "husband." (Of course, it may be that your sister-in-law invited her brother and his "spouse" to someone else's home for Thanksgiving. In that case, take up the matter with whoever is hosting the event.)
My point is that someone is going to a lot of trouble to host over twenty people for Thanksgiving dinner this year, and either chose to include or chose to allow someone else to invite a family member and his "significant other." For another guest to make a fuss that two men are being welcomed over to someone else's home for one of the biggest family holidays of the year is going to appear to them to be churlish.
Now, back to your point of view. I completely sympathize with your discomfort over the idea of seeing teens given an example of "gay married life" over their turkey and cornbread, especially if the men are not willing to behave for the sake of the children as if they are merely platonic friends. By attending such an event, and appearing to sanction such a relationship, you could indeed be contributing to the corruption of the morals of children. In that light, attending such an event is hardly "charitable." I also completely sympathize with your outrage at feeling that you are not able to spend Thanksgiving with your family because one family member did not feel the need to consult with other adults in the family about the appropriateness of including this couple at a family event at which children would be in attendance. But, just because you are correct, does not mean that you need to contribute to the family drama by making a show of your disapproval.
Here's one possible plan of action:
* Call the host with your regrets. * Simply say that "something has come up" that prevents you from attending. (This is true.) * Do not allow yourself to be pressed into explaining what came up. (This will make it all the more obvious what the problem was without you appearing to be a "spoilsport.") Just keep reiterating how sorry you are that you're unable to attend. * Arrange your own Thanksgiving celebration this year. * As early as possible for next year, perhaps over Christmas this year, let your family know that you would like to host the family Thanksgiving next year. * If your sister-in-law asks if her brother and his "spouse" can come to your home for Thanksgiving, regretfully explain that you already have a "full house." * Then allow her to decide where she and her immediate family will spend Thanksgiving.
I've attempted to stir up some controversy over this in the forums but I'd also like to post a response here.
This is a category of question that I've seen a lot of times, and it basically rests on the assumption that if we agree to do everyday normal things in the presence of people who are in gay relationships, that we are somehow sanctioning their relationships. The corollary is the belief that by refusing to participate, we send a clear message about the morality of same-sex relationships and we witness to the truth about homosexuality.
When we refuse to get involved in the lives of LGBTQ people, we do send a very clear message, but the message has nothing to do with the truth. We send the message that we are bigoted homophobes who think that gays are icky. We send the message that Catholics don't want anything to do with those nasty fags, and that we're afraid that our children will catch homosexuality like a disease if they're brought into even the most casual contact with gay couples. We send a message that we really care a lot about hating the sin, but that we're not even willing to eat at the same table as the sinner.