Mayor Pete Buttigieg at Notre Dame — ‘Friends in High Places’

News: US News
by Sycamore Trust  •  •  August 8, 2019   

A look at the inroads the gay and lesbian alumni association has made during the Fr. Jenkins administration

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Last March, Notre Dame gave the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association of Notre Dame (GALA) and its gay marriage agenda a boost by allowing GALA to honor presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and to stage a panel supporting same-sex married teachers in Catholic high schools. We describe these events below and take a look at the inroads GALA has made during the Jenkins administration.

GALA and Same-Sex Marriage

In a previous bulletin, we described in some detail GALA's hostility to Church teaching on homosexual sex and same-sex marriage.

GALA doesn't hide its position.

GALA doesn't hide its position. Its newsletters celebrate legal recognition of same-sex marriage and criticize the Vatican's reaffirmation of Church teaching. And year after year GALA has honored leading promoters of same-sex marriage at its Thomas Dooley awards dinner.


Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson,

who left his wife to marry his male partner

As we have reported, those awardees have included expelled and disciplined priests and nuns as well as co-habiting and married lesbians and homosexuals. The 2017 award went to a St. Mary's graduate, Kristen Matha, who had been honored by St. Mary's as Outstanding Young Alumna — and who was "married to her wife, Kendra, who together raise their son, Micah."

The most prominent awardee was probably Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop who divorced his wife to marry his male companion (whom he subsequently divorced). Robinson has been a leading advocate of the compatibility of same-sex marriage with Christianity. The Notre Dame student body president who was present at the award dinner praised Robinson's "version of Christianity."

The 2019 Awards

The pattern continued with this year's three awardees: South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rev. James Martin, S.J. and John Sullivan (ND Law '83).

Since Buttigieg is the most prominent and we intend to discuss Father Martin later in connection with his earlier appearance at Notre Dame, we pass quickly over Martin and Sullivan. We note simply that GALA praised Sullivan's support of "marriage equality" and that Martin is the most prominent clerical advocate for the Church's treating same-sex marriage as if homosexual sex were not, as the Church teaches, gravely sinful (Catechism 2357).

Now for Buttigieg, who "came back from the campaign trail just in time to receive the award" and who, with his "husband," has become a national advertisement for the normalization of same-sex marriage. (They "hope to have a little one soon.")

Fr. James Martin has also been honored by ND GALA

Buttigieg, who was married in the Episcopal Church, was baptized a Catholic and attended a Catholic high school. Both his parents taught at Notre Dame. In accepting the GALA award, he is reported to have referred (incorrectly) to the "teaching of the Catholic Church that homosexuality is a sin" and to have lamented the Church's doctrine on gay marriage. ("I'm sad for LGBT Catholics that they don't have the same opportunity [a Church wedding] today.")

Buttigieg couples his promotion of gay marriage with opposition to religious freedom legislation and full-throated support for abortion, the latter in a way that has touched Notre Dame directly.

In a widely publicized action, Buttigieg acceded to abortion rights advocates and vetoed a city council rezoning permitting a pro-life women's pregnancy center to locate next to a new abortion facility. (See the National Review coverage by Alexandra DeSanctis (ND ’16), a Sycamore Trust past student awardee.)

The center was the Women's Care Center of South Bend/Mishawaka, which was founded by a Notre Dame professor and is served by many Notre Dame student volunteers and alumni staff.

Father Jenkins, a member of the Center Foundation's board, declared he was "saddened" by Buttigieg's decision, which "thwarts plans that had met the criteria for rezoning and had been approved by the Common Council."

GALA's 'Solidarity and Identity' Panel

The awards dinner was preceded by a GALA panel discussion that showcased Shelly Fitzgerald, a lesbian Catholic who lost her job in 2018 as a counselor in Indianapolis' Roncalli High School when she contracted a same-sex marriage. (The Department of American Studies co-sponsored the event.)

Ms. Fitzgerald's case has received widespread media coverage and become an LGBT cause. She has spearheaded the effort with a legal complaint, countless interviews, TV appearances on the Ellen DeGeneres and other shows, and her role as Grand Marshal of the Indianapolis Gay Pride parade.

Ms. Fitzgerald and her co-panelist Father James Martin spent a good deal of time "taking on the institutional Church," as the moderator put it. Father Martin had been "stupefied" by the school's decision, which was ratified by Archbishop Charles Thompson, and leveled his usual criticism of Church "discrimination" against homosexuals and lesbians.

But as the Archbishop stressed, this case "is not about sexual orientation but about the Church's teaching on marriage" with respect to teachers who are obligated "to convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church."

While Fitzgerald and Martin were repeatedly taking the Church to task, the University's panel participant, a member of the Center for Social Concerns staff, spoke of other things.


Notre Dame knew where GALA and Buttigieg stand on same-sex marriage and the latter on abortion. Indeed, the Alumni Association had denied GALA's application for recognition. Why, then, did the University provide GALA a platform?

Bryan Ricketts (ND '17), a GALA officer, tells us why. He was president of both the Notre Dame student body and the LGBT club (PrismND) and an outspoken opponent of Church teaching on gay marriage. (He helped organize the rainbow "flag drop" from dorm windows in protest of Vice President Pence's 2017 appearance as commencement speaker.)

'[T]here are welcoming people in administrative positions' who 'helped us pull this off.'

Ricketts acknowledged to the ND Observer that it "was not always possible" to hold the dinner on campus — this was only the second time. But, he divulged, "[T]here are welcoming people in administrative positions" who "helped us pull this off."

GALA's Inroads

And not only these events.

GALA has long been engaged in extending its influence at Notre Dame. Each year, for example, it awards scholarships to two students "who identify with the LGBT community," and it sends a ND student to Camp Pride, "the premier national training ground for LGBT and ally youth activism" on gay agenda issues including gay marriage.

There is, for example, the Notre Dame Magazine's decision to publish congratulatory notes about alumni same-sex marriages.

An especially revelatory GALA effort to "strengthen [its] connections with current students" is its "end-of-year queer dance" (which, thankfully, the university does not endorse).

GALA's and its allies' efforts have been remarkably fruitful during the Jenkins administration. Some items:

  • In 2012, Father Jenkins reversed long-standing policy and approved an LGBT student club.
  • In 2014, Father Jenkins recognized same-sex marriages for employee spousal benefits — a decision called "morally indefensible" by three of the University’' most prominent faculty members.
  • GALA has sponsored talks and panels on gay-themed subjects, including, notably, Bishop Gene Robinson's 2013 assault at Notre Dame on Church teaching on homosexual sex and same-sex marriage
  • In 2017, GALA co-sponsored an LGBT film festival.

This is by no means all. There is, for example, the Notre Dame Magazine's decision to publish congratulatory notes about alumni same-sex marriages, which we'll discuss in a subsequent bulletin.

But it is enough to show that the University has overshot the mark of "accept[ing]" persons with same-sex attraction "with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" and without "unjust discrimination," as the Church enjoins. Disregarding and subverting the Church's increasingly unpopular condemnation of homosexual sex and same-sex marriage is the mark of a fading Catholic identity.

Originally published at Sycamore Trust.


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