Thoughts on Pope Francis’s response to the Synod of Bishops on the Family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love)  
from Casey Lopata, co-founder of Fortunate Families  

As the parent of a gay son, I am disappointed, though not surprised, with what Pope Francis specifically says (and doesn’t say) with regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their concerns in Amoris Laetitia.

Paragraph 250 reiterates the Catechism’s call for respect and consideration of every person regardless of sexual orientation (using “orientation” rather than “tendencies” is a hopeful change). But it also repeats the loophole qualifier: “’every sign of unjust [my emphasis] discrimination’ is to be avoided.” Church leaders have used this loophole to oppose LGBT employment, adoption and other rights, and the document is silent about the subsequent harm caused to LGBT people and their families.

Howdy from a Listening Parent at Fortunate Families! My name is Marcia Garber and I am a proud parent of two beautiful souls, one who lives and one who lives in spirit.

Who would have thought since my husband, Ken and I had the honor and privilege to meet Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata, founders of Fortunate Families, at the Dignity USA Convention celebrating 40 years in 2009, that together we all would have come so far??!!

As is often said, "One step forward; two steps back.” These days, great progress has been made and unfortunately for some, much still needs to be accomplished. The work is challenging, made light only by the love and support of so many who understand the imperative need of EQUALITY FOR ALL.

If only our human family, with our collective gift of grace, could embrace all. What a world it would be for each human filled with diversity shining in creation. Each person has the power and responsibility to work toward this common goal. In our local communities and on the state and federal levels. We have witnessed the Supreme Court of the United States rule that marriage is for ALL. Without the hard work of so many, we never would have seen this done.

We must continue until all have what is needed to live full lives. A culture shift inclusive of all our diversity is required to end stigma; homelessness; substance use; internal and external physical, psychological and social oppressions; suicide; isolation; unemployment; underemployment; lack of educational opportunity, etc. – all stressors that need to stop.

I am eternally grateful to my child – gifted to me and this world – for opening eyes, ears, hearts and minds to the notion that gender identity and expression is not limited but limitless!

In 2012, Massachusetts enacted non- discrimination legislation for transgender folks in housing, education, credit and employment. Further legislation is pending for non- discrimination in public spaces. Major changes in health care practices have occurred.

I never imagined I would have attended the World Meeting of Families last September in Philadelphia to represent my child in this very "Catholic" space in which members continue to denounce and reject the reality of my child. I was proud and privileged to participate as Equally Blessed and to stand, for my child, in the presence of this Pope. Perhaps, with the grace of God, his heart will be changed. Perhap, as voices speak, ears will open. Perhaps, as stories are shared, eyes and minds will too. It is incumbent upon all of us to do all we can.

Marcia is a Listening Parent in support of Fortunate Families as was her late husband, Ken. They worked tirelessly for issues of transgender (and LGBT+) equality. They have been recognized frequently for their work, including a 2011 Interfaith Pride Award, and the creation of the Ken Garber Ally Advocacy Award.  To read more about their family story click here.