Parishioner from Berkeley arrested at conference

By Judith Scherr Daily Planet Staff
Thursday November 16, 2000

Kara Speltz been called “objectively disordered.” And worse. 

And she’s vowed not to take it any more. A woman who identifies with the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender movement, Speltz said she won’t allow herself to be demeaned by anyone, not even the highest ranking members of her church – the Catholic Church. 

So she went to Washington, D.C., this week to tell the bishops attending the U.S. Bishops Conference that “we are God’s children too.”  

She was arrested for her trouble. But that was in the plan put together by Soul Force, a nationwide organization that protests various church teachings that disapprove of homosexuality. 

Soul Force took its protest to the Cathedral Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where Speltz said she was among 104 people arrested at about 11 a.m. Tuesday morning. Each of the arrestees posted $50 and was released, she said. 

Among those who protested at the gates of the cathedral and at the hotel where the bishops met were Rev. Phil Lawson of Easterhill Methodist Church of Richmond, Calif., a 95-year-old grandmother, in support of her gay grandson and Eileen Harrington, a bisexual student at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. 

The church not only preaches bigotry, says Speltz, whose home church is UC Berkeley’s Newman Hall on Bancroft Way, but it contributes funds to support anti-gay measures. The California Catholic Bishops gave $340,000 in the support of Proposition 22, which affirmed that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” And it can be even worse, said Harrington, a former social worker. The church teachings can cause people to feel tremendous guilt, even leading to suicide among homosexuals, particularly youth, she said. 

Harrington explained the protest this way: “We are putting the issue before the bishops, (telling them) we prayerfully disagree with you.” 

Those attending the protests in Washington D.C. will discuss the action Nov. 30 at 7 p.m., in the GTU Board Room Library, 2400 Ridge Road.