By Associated Press - Tuesday, June 9, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Catholic Diocese of Tulsa has left an organization over its involvement in a LGBT pride parade over the weekend.

Saturday’s Tulsa Pride parade is billed as the longest-running lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender festival in Oklahoma and was the first of such to be held since same-sex marriage became legal in Oklahoma, the Tulsa World ( ) reported.

The Rev. Msgr. Patrick Gaalaas said in a letter to leaders of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice that “unless a clear statement can be made by OCCJ that its participation does not imply support for same-sex marriage… we have no option but to withdraw from membership.”

Gaalaas couldn’t be reached for comment by the newspaper, but Tulsa Bishop Edward Slattery said in a telephone interview Monday that the organization’s involvement in the parade left the diocese little choice.

“If we were not to do anything, we would either be saying it’s not that important of an issue or that we don’t agree with the church directive,” Slattery said.

He said the Catholic Church “has made a very strong statement on the definition of marriage” and that the organization “knew the possible reverberations” of participating in the event.

Organization board chairman Russ Florence said it has no position on same-sex marriage, but endorses “respect and understanding for all people.” He said he knows of no other members contemplating withdrawing their membership because of the organization’s participation in the parade.

Oklahomans for Equality produces the parade and its executive director, Toby Jenkins, said in a statement late Monday that it’s grateful for the OCCJ’s support.


Information from: Tulsa World,

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