I attended a Roman Catholic baptism about two weeks ago. A crowd of young parents and others of all ages stood in semi-circle around the font. The atmosphere was reverent yet festive. Toddlers squirmed. The church was exquisite. Blades of late-morning light slid down through colored glass. The priest exuded hope and delight as he kicked off the rites. As the two parents approached the font to offer their child to the church, I began to tear up. My 11-year-old daughter Grace, not unaccustomed to my poet's penchant for being capsized by moments so tender, saw my waterworks start up, rolled her eyes as adolescents do, smiled, and handed me a tissue. As I often do when my emotions get the best of me in the presence of my children, I get all pedagogical on them. I whispered sidebars to Grace: "That's litany of the saints, it's beautiful when sung in Latin... And that the part about Satan and the empty promises -- it's technically an exorcism!" Photo
I didn't have to explain that it was no ordinary baptism we were witnessing. She knew it was extraordinary, because I had taught her. The two parents at the font were bravely (or so I believe) demonstrating their desire not to throw the baby out with the baptismal water.
They were two gay dads asking a church governed by bullies to bless their child.
My daughter later asked how it was that gay people could have their children baptized in Catholic churches but not be married in them. Good question. I broke it down for her. I told her a far greater percentage of Catholics support gay marriage than support the Vatican. I characterized the failure of my church to offer gay Catholics marriage in the church as just that -- "a failure." And a sin. Photo - not the 2 dads in this article
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Poet Michele Madigan Somerville is the author of Black Irish and WISEGAL (2001). She has written about religion for the New York Times (online). She lives in Brooklyn.