U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia attended a $150-a-plate dinner on Tuesday hosted by the Urban Family Council, a group whose founder is suing to stop Philadelphia from recognizing same-sex partnerships. The council said the dinner was not a fund-raiser and that the ticket price would cover only the cost of the banquet, held in honor of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Federal judges are barred from raising money for political, charitable, or
civic organizations or permitting the use of the prestige of their office for that purpose.
"We just thought, What better way to honor Cardinal Bevilacqua than to have a sitting Supreme Court justice up to speak?" said the council's founder, William Devlin. "It's nice to be able to say you have a friend like Justice Scalia." About 125 guests were expected at the dinner at the highbrow Union League of Philadelphia. The event was closed to reporters.
The Urban Family Council opposes abortion, advocates abstinence from sex before marriage, and seeks to promote two-parent families by offering training programs for young fathers. Devlin is battling to overturn a Philadelphia ordinance allowing same-sex couples to register as "life partners." City officials said the law's primary purpose is to allow the partners of gay city employees to qualify for health benefits. A state appeals court ruled in Devlin's favor last year, saying the city had usurped the state's power to regulate marriage. The city appealed to the state supreme court, which hasn't yet indicated whether it will take the case.
The Urban Family Council maintains on its Web site that homosexuality is an immoral lifestyle choice, not a genetic predisposition, and that gays should be encouraged to repent and seek help to become straight.