“I love my moms” dog T-shirt from CafePress.comAnimals are important in the lives of many GLBT people, and some are taking their pets to be blessed today. Contemporary animal blessings are often done on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Oct. 4. I wrote an Animal Blessing Service for “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations.” Here are highlights: Animals are important in the lives of many lesbian and gay people. Cats and dogs often become surrogate children for same-sex couples. The health benefits provided by living with an animal companion are well-known, and in several cities gay and lesbian people have helped create unique organizations such as PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support) dedicated to enabling people with AIDS to keep their pets. On a more philosophical level, the discrimination faced by lesbian and gay people is linked to attitudes that devalue animals and the rest of nature. Western thought sets up dualities in which spirit is better than body, male is better than female, human is better than animal, intellectual is better than sexual -- and sexuality defines gays and lesbians in this way of thinking. Gays and lesbians, like nature itself, are seen as something that must be controlled. The result is a sterile, exclusive church and a polluted earth. Many lesbians and gay men seek to remedy this situation by healing the spirit-body split in Christianity. For all these reasons, it is appropriate to bless animals in the context of lesbian and gay spirituality…. May we remember that humanity is but one small, fragile strand and interdependent web of life. May we remember that we human beings are not the only ones created to look at flowers, to taste cool water, to listen to the wind, and to feel the earth beneath our feet. May we remember that what befalls the earth befalls all who live on her lovely shores. May we never forget that to harm the Earth is to scorn the Creator. We pray for the animals who are our companions. We pray for the wildlife displaced as we develop land for human use. We pray for the animals who work for us, including the seeing-eye dog, the carriage horse, and the laboratory rat. We pray for animals who are bought and sold, animals who live in cages, and animals who live free. We pray for animals indigenous to this particular place, including [name a few species]. We pray for the animals who have made our lives possible by becoming food and clothing for us. We pray for endangered species, including the giant panda and the California condor, and we remember the dinosaurs, passenger pigeons, and other extinct species. We pray for all human beings who have felt degraded by being compared to animals. God, we know that you hear all or prayers, those spoken and those that we hold silently in our hearts. We claim your loving presence with us now.