Last week Lucinda Naylor, the artist in residence at the Basilica of St. Mary‘s, began planning a work of art – which would lead to the suspension of her job.
Despite the suspension, Naylor is still working on the art installation piece, which is meant as a protest to DVDs sent out by the Catholic Church.
The DVD defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and includes an appearance from Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis saying the definition of marriage should be brought before Minnesota voters.
The videos were mailed to approximately 400,000 Catholic homes in Minnesota last Wednesday. They were paid for by an anonymous donor.
Naylor , who held her position at the Basilica for 15 years before her suspension Sunday, said she was planning to create the artwork because she "wanted to send the message that not all Catholics share the exclusionary views of the archbishop."
However, Naylor doesn’t want to dwell on her suspension.
"The church felt like they had no choice but to let me go. All I want to do is focus on creating a positive piece of art," she said.
First-year University of Minnesota graduate student and gay marriage advocate Allison Witham had one word for the DVDs: frustration.
"I’m sure the people who are anti-gay marriage are going to celebrate [the DVD] and the people who are pro-gay marriage are going to think this is a heavy blow," Witham said. "What I personally hope is that it will light a fire under people who have been ignoring the issue."
University alumna Monica Meyer agreed with Witham.
"At the end of the day, no matter what people think about two same-sex people who love each other and want to get married, the DVD doesn’t help strengthen anyone’s family," said Meyer, who is executive director of OutFront Minnesota, an organization that advocates GLBT equality.
In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Nienstedt said the church has "been labeled as discriminating against gay people. There’s no discrimination when there isn’t a basic right to something. And those who have the right to marriage are men and women who want to enter into a lifelong, mutually supportive and procreative relationship."
With the upcoming election, Witham and Meyer said these DVDs could impact voters. DFL candidate Mark Dayton and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner support gay marriage while Republican candidate Tom Emmer does not.
Naylor said she first heard of DVDs arriving in homes Monday.
Instead of returning them to the archbishop, Naylor said she hopes others who wish to protest the DVDs will send their copies to her or a group called Return the DVD so she can begin creating her art installation.
"ReturnTheDVD.org was established Friday by a group of Catholics who believe the money used to make and send the DVDs could have been put to better use," said Robert Radecki, one of the website’s
Return the DVD has paired with Naylor in order to collect as many copies of the film as possible.