Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2012 Page: 14 of 56
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Restoring some Dignity to Dallas
Mirroring a national trend, local LGBT Catholic
group finds itself in a rebuilding stage
DAVID TAFFET I Staff Writer
Dignity Dallas, the LGBT Catholic organization, is in a re-form-
ing stage, according to leader Jim Davis.
Davis said he's been out "beating the bushes to let people know
who we are."
Dignity is not formally recognized by the Catholic Church.
Jon Garinn, Dignity Dallas' former spiritual leader, said the
group once attracted 25 to 35 people to weekly Sunday mass.
But Davis said the group, on the verge of folding, now meets
just once a month as it tries to rebuild. One problem, Davis said,
has been finding local leaders willing to identify themselves
openly and actively promote the group.
"The bishop already doesn't like us," Davis said. "What do we
care what he says? I want my name out there."
DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke said
the role of the organization has changed, and the Dallas chapter's
situation isn't uncommon. She said at one time, Dignity was the
first connection a gay Catholic made to the LGBT community.
The organization was often a place of sanctuary — a safe place
for LGBT Catholics who were verbally attacked in their parishes.
That's not true anymore.
"The LGBT community has blossomed," she said. "As Dignity
re-forms across the country, it's taking many shapes and forms."
But she said that Dignity is still a place for LGBT Catholics to
take refuge from the mounting attacks by bishops and the pope
that have hurt so many.
"We're the group who will affirm who you are," she said. "We'll
marry the couples. We'll baptize their kids. Dignity is there to sup
port the majority of Catholics who support LGBT rights,"
Duddy-Burke said a study last year indicated that Catholics are
less likely to hear anti-LGBT messages from the pulpit than main-
stream Protestants or Evangelicals.
A New York Times /CBS News poll released this week showed
that more than two-thirds of Catholics believe same-sex couples
deserve some .sort of relationship recognition, while 44 percent
support marriage equality.
But the message from the upper hierarchy is still negative and
even getting worse.
"Dignity is the anti-hierarchy;" she said.
The national organization helps local chapters with quarterly
leadership calls, a chapter-relations support team, leadership train-
ing programs and general exchanges of ideas.
Duddy-Burke said some chapters continue to offer weekly mass
while others perform their own service monthly. Some attend a
parish together and then go out to brunch as a group. Others main-
tain activities such as a book-discussion group or supper club.
Davis said the Dallas Dignity group has maintained its monthly
supper club at Revlon House, one of the housing units of AIDS
Duddy-Burke called that "more Catholic than the liturgy" in liv-
ing the values that the church teaches.
Davis said that many Dignity members attend mass at Holy
Trinity Church on Oak Lawn Avenue, where a large portion of the
Congregation is gay and lesbian. To explain what Dignity means
to him, Davis coined the chapter's motto — "The traditions you
love:. The acceptance you deserve."
"I started attending Dignity when I began hearing edicts from
Rome," he said. "My church [parish] wasn't welcoming either. At
the time, I was ready to walk away from the [Catholic] Church."
He agreed with Duddy-Burke that Dignity speaks for the values
of the majority of Catholics who believe in equality for the LGBT
"We think it's important as gay Catholics to hold a mirror up to
the Catholic Church and say 'There's no conflict there,'" he said.
Because the local bishop doesn't support Dignity, Davis said the
group has had trouble finding clergy to lead mass. Currently, a
monk who lives in the area but is still affiliated with an order in
another state and a priest from the Polish National Catholic Church
with a parish in Oak Cliff act as its spiritual leaders.
"If the chapter is going to have any effect," he said, "we have to
be in your face,"
Davis wants new members who will let the group's leaders
know what the new Dallas Dignity should do.
Duddy-Burke said that the increasingly hostile rhetoric from the
church hierarchy: isn't playing in the pews. DignityUSA is receiv-
ing stronger and stronger support from Catholics across the coun-
"I'm giving 25 bucks to Dignity," she said people write her after
hearing anti-gay messages from the church, "because I'm not giv-
ing it to my parish." ■
Dignity Dallas meets the first Sunday of.tlie month at Cathedral of
Hope at 5 p.m. For more info, visit DignityDallas.org.
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Wright, John. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2012, newspaper, February 17, 2012; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239207/m1/14/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.