Yesterday, GLAAD broke the story of Nicholas Coppola, a gay Catholic man who, after years of service and involvement in his local parish, was asked to leave because he and his long-term boyfriend married. Coppola's story comes directly on the heels of Cardinal Timothy Dolan's statement on Easter Sunday that the Catholic Church should be more welcoming for LGBT persons.
Coppola's story has resonated with many, and has appeared in multiple media outlets since first appearing. The New York Times featured the story both online and in print; The Washington Post included it in their On Faith blog; Religion News Service wrote an op-ed. Local News station WPIX covered it, and the story continues to grow.
Openly gay Yonkers city council member Michael Sabatino Jr. knows Coppola's pain all too well. In 2003, when he and his partner—Robert Voorheis—married, they, too, were removed from all active participation in their Bronx Catholic parish. When asked about Coppola's situation, Sabatino responded:
I am sorry to see another couple go through what the two of us did 10 years ago. This is a perfect opportunity for the Church to take the statement Cardinal Dolan made just this past Sunday and put it into reality by being accepting and allowing Mr. Coppola to continue his ministry in the church. Actions like this do nothing to help the church's image. It creates an atmosphere of intolerance within the church that disproves an acceptance of LGBT congregates.
If the church is trying to build their congregations, actions like this do nothing but turn more people away. It's not only the LGBT person who is hurt by this but also their families and friends. The church should be focusing on feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and caring for the poor and using every willing person to accomplish those goals.
GLAAD will continue to lift up Coppola's story in the media, calling for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the Roman Catholic Church.