George Pell’s lesbian cousin Monica Hingston and Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon voiced their support for gay marriage at a function this week on religion and sexuality.

Until very recently I thought there was no way I could be interested in marriage because it just represents the majority path in society that has ostracised and been very fearful of me and my partner -¦ Hingston said, but somebody recently said to me unless we go for gay marriage, if we don’t push for the equal recognition of our unions, then we will not be able to receive the rights that we really seek.

Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon said she was not concerned not to be married to her partner because my commitment is total, but believed that gay marriage should be available as a choice to everyone.

The comments came during question time at a function held by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association (SGLBA) on Monday night, with Hingston and McRae-McMahon asked to speak on the theme of resilience.

Hingston hit the headlines two months ago when she wrote an open letter to George Pell, the Catholic archbishop of Sydney, demanding he recognise her 19-year relationship with Peg Moran and challenging him to denounce the homophobic declarations of the Vatican.

Activism of a different kind was the focus of Hingston’s speech, as she related tales of resistance against Pinochet in Chile, a regime Hingston and Moran protested against for over a decade.

The struggle against homophobia was never far off the agenda, however, with Hingston urging the crowd never to let anyone put you down and declaring, Hiding from reality weakens a person.

Hingston also revealed she first felt compelled to write her open letter after Pell refused to give Communion to members of the Rainbow Sash movement at a protest held two years ago. I was furious, she said, adding that Pell had yet to respond to the letter, but that she no longer expected a personal reply.

McRae-Mahon spoke of her struggles as an openly lesbian minister with the Uniting Church, including her resistance against a neo-Nazi group in the late 80s. The greatest challenge, however, was when she came out after 42 years of marriage.
I was more afraid of the church than I was of any neo-Nazi group, because they were my family. They could really hurt me, McRae-McMahon said.

When asked about the specific prejudices within the Catholic Church, McRae-McMahon advocated resistance. If Catholic lesbians can say to themselves, -˜I am who I am, I’m a decent, law-abiding, good woman of the Catholic faith,’ then -“ if they wish to -“ they should stand up and try to say to their groups, their communities, their churches, their pastors, that that’s who they are and push to be accepted.

Because I don’t think the George Pells of this world should lift you out of something if that’s where you wish to stay, she said.

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