CA Leaders Ask SF Archbishop To Cancel Participation In Anti-Gay Event

Family Research Council And NOM Behind June 19 DC Gathering


SAN FRANCISCO - Top California and San Francisco officials, along with faith, LGBT and civil rights leaders, have signed an open letter to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, asking him to cancel his participation in an upcoming march and rally against civil marriage for same-sex couples. The June 19 event in Washington, D.C. is being organized by some of the nation's most virulently anti-LGBT organizations and leaders, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Family Research Council.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Senator Mark Leno, State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros, and Supervisors David Campos and Scott Wiener are among the more than 70 leaders and organizations calling on Archbishop Cordileone to reconsider his participation in the National Organization for Marriage's march and rally and, instead, "join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred."

"We respect freedom of religion and understand that you oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples," write the diverse group of signers, which includes the Episcopal Bishops of California and Wisconsin; the Very Rev. Dr. Brian Baker, Dean of the Cathedral at Sacramento's Trinity Cathedral; Rev. Will McGarvey, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa and Community Presbyterian Church; Rev. Dennis W. Wiley, Pastor of the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in D.C.; Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto Sr., Pastor of Glide Memorial UMC in San Francisco; and Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine. "Many people of faith who have different opinions on the question of civil marriage for same-sex couples have come together in respectful dialogue and discernment to discuss those differences. Sadly, the actions of NOM and its invited speakers push us farther apart rather than bringing us together."

The signers point to NOM's "long and well-documented history of publishing material that connects homosexuality with pedophilia and incest and falsely suggests that gays and lesbians are trying to 'inculcate children.'" The Family Research Council, which is co-sponsoring the event, has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The letter points out that the actions of NOM, Family Research Council and several of the invited speakers contradict the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "which states that lesbian and gay people 'must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.'"

The letter comes as Catholic bishops are being urged to expand their priorities, with Pope Francis slated to convene a meeting of senior clerics this fall to reexamine issues such as same-sex marriage. A recent poll by Public Religion Research Institute found that 57 percent of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

"While not all of us agree with official Catholic teaching on marriage and family," states the open letter, "we appreciate the many statements from Catholic leaders defending the human dignity of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, especially the recent words of Pope Francis: 'If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?'"

Other speakers at the event include former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., and the Rev. Bill Owens Sr., all of whom "have repeatedly denigrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people," the signers write. "By standing alongside these individuals and organizations, you appear to be endorsing their troubling words and deeds," the letter states.

An online petition asking Archbishop Cordileone not to speak at the anti-gay rally has been launched with the goal of getting 15,000 signatures. The petition can be found here.


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