Steve Cook flinched as a heckler hollered, “You’re a traitor to the gay community.” One of the signs Cook held read, “Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians,” and the other “Killing children never advances gay rights.” Soon others joined the chant of “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!”
Cook was participating in the second-annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco last winter, the West Coast version of the March for Life held annually in Washington, D.C.
Cook said it was obvious that hecklers were singling him out more than the other marchers. One pro-choice protestor even yelled, “Oh, no! There’s a gay man among them.”
Cook, a bisexual and a member of the Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL), is part of a growing movement in the gay and lesbian community to let people know that there is good reason to be pro-life and gay.
“As gays and lesbians, we are unwanted by society,” said Cecilia Brown, president of PLAGAL, “so we can sympathize with the unborn child, who is not wanted.” Brown believes that the terminating of those deemed undesirable is fraught with interesting paradoxes for the gay community: “What if one day the gay gene is found and women begin to abort babies because they don’t want to have a gay child? What will the gay pro-choicers say then?”
PLAGAL was established in 1990 in Washington DC and Minneapolis, MN by founders Tom Sena and Joe Beard. Beard, an attorney, worked pro-bono for many pro-life organizations but was frustrated when he was told that he had to be quiet about his homosexuality. Not wishing to hide either his homosexuality or pro-life views, Beard helped form PLAGAL.
“A disproportionate amount of the early pro-life attorneys were gay,” explained Maria Krasinski, a board member of PLAGAL. Krasinski said these attorneys were giving away thousands and thousands of dollars worth of their professional time to the pro-life movement but the pro-life movement was telling them that they couldn’t be honest about who they were.
Krasinski, a health care worker, likened it to telling people of color that they could only participate if they first put on a white face. “It was just unacceptable,” said Krasinski. “I thank God everyday for Tom Sena and Joe Beard.”
Today PLAGAL, a 100% volunteer organization with over 900 members nationwide, has chapters in Boston, Washington DC, Minneapolis and one developing in San Francisco.
Since its founding, members of PLAGAL have marched in pro-life rallies, set up tables at Gay Pride events, sponsored forums, published newsletters and op-ed pieces in both the straight and gay press.
Though PLAGAL would like to see Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973— overturned, it is not the organization’s focus. Instead PLAGAL supports parental consent, women’s right to know laws, and supports laws that place guidelines and restrictions on how abortion clinics should be run.
A Painful Experience
Brown’s own journey to becoming a pro-life activist comes from a personal experience with abortion. In the course of getting an abortion herself, Brown said she made the mistake of looking over and seeing the jar that contained her aborted fetus. “I flipped out,” she recalled. “They told me it was just a blob of tissue, but I was able to see the jar next to me, and I could see an eyeball staring at me and also fingers and a little arm. That wasn’t a blob of tissue. That was a lie.”
Brown, a waitress in Ocala, Florida, also was told that it wouldn’t hurt and that there would only be slight cramping. “But that definitely wasn’t true,” she said. “It really hurt. It felt like my insides were being pulled out. They used a vacuum cleaner to suck everything out.”
Brown was hospitalized for a week after her abortion. “I was also very depressed,” she said. “Which lead to drinking, taking drugs and doing other unhealthy things to try and deal with the pain.” In the end, Brown, who raises a one-year-old grandson whom she helped save from an abortion, said her abortion experience only made her life worse and she eventually dropped out of school.
According to Ann Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League based in Chicago, while the pro-life community is largely opposed to homosexual practice there is still much to admire about PLAGAL.
Scheilder believes it’s self-serving for a heterosexual man or woman to be pro-choice because it solves a problem for them if they don’t want to be bothered with an unwanted child. “But for someone who is gay—and not likely to be facing that choice—it’s a selfless and noble thing to be concerned about the unborn.”
As a Christian, Scheidler said, one needs to be kind, loving and accepting of all people. “There is never an excuse to be intolerant… Ultimately, the concern for life crosses all barriers, including political, religious and even sexual preferences.”