Message from the Chair
From our Chair, Jack Bergen ‘77
As I reflect on this issue’s message I am encouraged by a number of recent events: A fun GALA tailgater before the cold/wet Stanford game, the right for same-sex couples to marry in Indiana, benefits for married same-sex couples at Notre Dame & Saint Mary’s, and a Pope who continues to create an inclusive and forward-thinking vision for his flock.
I was recently interviewed by the South Bend Tribune to provide GALA’s perspective on changes at Notre Dame related to the LGBT community. As I told the reporter, we are optimistic with the progress in allowing the creation of PrismND and a very quick decision on marriage benefits for employees, but also need to continue to push for change.
Notre Dame has many proud traditions. One tradition is support for human rights and human dignity. Look at the work Fr. Hesburgh did back in the 60’s during the civil rights movement. He stood hand-in-hand to fight for civil rights when it was extremely unpopular. Similarly, we would love to see Notre Dame be the leaders in the movement to spearhead change for LGBT Catholics instead of opposing it. Pope Francis has set clear vision on where he wants to take this. Notre Dame has a great opportunity to either embrace this vision, or continue to reinforce the old stereotypes that being gay is somehow less than acceptable. Our message to the leaders at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s – continue the tradition of embracing and leading change when it is right!!
I wish everyone a fun and loving holiday season with family and friends. In the spirit of the season, I also encourage everyone to find at least one way to give back to someone in need. After all, isn’t that what gives us the most joy?
Stanford Football Tailgater
About 40 dedicated people stopped by the annual GALA football tailgater on October 4th prior to the ND/Stanford football game. Included in the group were members of GALA, PrismND, SAGA (Saint Mary’s LGBT student group), Glass (ND Graduate LGBT student organization) as well as folks from the South Bend LGBT community. Even though the weather this year was cold and rainy, everyone enjoyed some “warm” camaraderie and a last minute win! Too bad the results for Florida State and Northwestern weren’t the same.
Gay Ski Week
As we ramp up a variety of activities and events around the country for our members, there is one in particular we’d like to highlight this winter. One of our members, Karen Kurt (ND ‘60), has helped to organize Gay Ski Week; a week-long LGBTQ winter event held in January.
Located in Aspen, this event is not only fun for alums and their families, but proceeds also go to The Roaring Fork Gay and Lesbian Community Fund (RFGLCF). This fund sponsors educational forums, field referrals for incidents of discrimination, hate crimes, or other concerns, and work to bring together the varied communities of the western slope of Colorado.So for our Colorado alums, or those who happen to be in the area, please check out Gay Ski Week from January 11th to the 18th in Aspen!
For more information check out their direct website here:
The Family Synod in Rome and What it Means for Gay Catholics
In recent months the international media has been reporting on Pope Francis and the seemingly different tone coming from the Vatican on issues related to social teaching. In particular, bishops from around the world gathered in Rome in October 2014 for The Family Synod where they discussed pastoral care for people and families that have been marginalized by the Church. While the synod was happening, the bishops’ working document was released and the language in the report was remarkably welcoming. There was a section named “Welcoming homosexual persons” that talked about the “gifts and qualities” gay people have to offer, and mentioned “the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.” The document also made clear that the Church teaching about marriage remained solely for heterosexuals, but the language used was a far cry from the “intrinsically disordered” bit in the Catechism.
When the bishops released the final document, however, the language had significantly changed, and was much less welcoming. The title of the section changed to “Pastoral Attention Towards Persons With Homosexual Tendencies” and instead it highlighted how unacceptable it to put any pressure on the Church to support civil unions for same sex couples. They also stated, “There is absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous for God’s plan for marriage and family.” Clearly, this is more reminiscent of the Church’s previous statements on this issue, and based on reports out of the Vatican, the changes in language for the final version occurred after an uproar about the original text. At least for now, the synod doesn’t seem to mean much of anything for gay Catholics, other than the knowledge that there is discord about the topic in Rome. Considering the Church’s history with LGBT issues, perhaps having discord is a very good place to be.
Same Sex Benefits at ND
This fall’s federal level decision to uphold the repeal of bans on same-sex marriage in several states has a profound impact on Notre Dame employees and faculty. Because the law in Indiana now recognizes same-sex marriages, the University has conceded to providing these benefits based on civil law.
From the University’s HR department:
“…the law in Indiana now recognizes same-sex marriages and the University will extend benefits to all legally married spouses, including same-sex spouses.
Notre Dame is a Catholic university and endorses a Catholic view of marriage. However, it will follow the relevant civil law and begin to implement this change immediately.”
Implementing immediate changes in policy means that our faculty and staff, the people who work to create the Notre Dame experience, will have the opportunity for a more equal employment and a just work environment.
Tom Dooley Award Ceremony: Once again GALA is planning to hold a bi-annual awards ceremony honoring a person who represents the values that our own Tom Dooley demonstrated during his too-short life. The event is scheduled to take place this spring in South Bend, exact date TBD. As we did in 2013, we hope to have a weekend of activity. More details will be provided but consider joining fellow members, students and friends for this event.
WANT TO GET MORE INVOLVED?
Share Your Story
We’ve all got a story, and as members of the Notre Dame community we realize that our stories connect us to each other. We’d like to reach out to our members and ask that they share their stories—what they’ve been up to, struggles they’ve overcome, or successes they’d like to share—anything that gives us a window into the unique and diverse people we call our ND family.
No experience in writing is required, just submit a short segment (around 500 words) and we’ll work with you to make sure it gets shared.
What are dues and why do we need them?
Dues are $35 dollars a year and assist with on-campus and regional social events, fund, the Campus Pride scholarship for an ND/SMC student, supporting the annual alumni reunion event— all of which build real relationships not only between alumni but impact the lives of current LGBT students on campus.
All of the events that you see in our newsletters happen because of dues, and we’d like to encourage you as a member to participate and contribute.
To renew your membership just go to GALA’s website and select the “Membership” tab. Credit cards are encouraged! If you’d rather mail your payment, please send it to:
1856 Sherman Ave,Apt 1SW Evanston, IL 60201-3724
On a final note:
During this holiday season we wanted to extend a special holiday greetings from your officers. We’ve been proud to work closely with our members this year; it’s the community we have with each other that makes Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s such special places!