Conservative Catholic celibate gays in Providence, R.I., say that if God allowed it, they would like to be in monogamous relationships.

But a Nov. 23 Providence Journal story (free subscription required) describes the local Courage chapter as a “12-step program” in which participants say the rising acceptance of gay marriage and civil unions only makes their sexual struggle harder.

“It’s wrong,” a participant named Richard said. “These people in the gay agenda are trying to rationalize, legalize, and make a certain lifestyle choice look good and even holy.”

Separation from, and opposition to, gay couples and gay-affirming celibates seems to be an underlying theme among interviewed group members.

The group’s spiritual director, retired priest John F. Randall, emphasizes the separatist sentiment.

“Their struggle, their life, is not easy — to lead a chaste lifestyle,” he said. “They are like men and women without a country in a way … they must hold firm to a strong faith or they don’t make it.”

He said the men and women are bombarded with different messages in society. “The culture is trying to make homosexuality like a civil right. These people don’t believe that.”

Not that co-existence would be easy for opposing groups of religious activists.

They were told by picketers that they were victims, and the Catholic church was to blame. God loves you, someone shouted, even if you’re gay.

A member of Courage recalled that he told her, “we’re not just living for today, but for eternity.”

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