As antigay activists prepare for Thursday’s March for Marriage – actually, a march against marriage equality – pressure is increasing against Catholic leaders who are supporting the event.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who represents a San Francisco district, has joined those calling on the city’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, to cancel his plans to address the Washington, D.C., rally and march from the U.S. Capitol to the Supreme Court. And Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal has denounced his city’s archdiocese for providing free transportation to the event, which has the National Organization for Marriage as lead sponsor.
In a letter last week to Cordileone, Pelosi, herself a Catholic, dubbed the march “venom masquerading as virtue,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle, which obtained a copy of the correspondence. “We share our love of the Catholic faith and our city of San Francisco,” she wrote, adding, “While we may disagree on the subject of marriage equality, we do agree that every person is a child of God, possessed of the spark of divinity and worthy of respect.” Some of the participants, she said, have shown “disdain and hate towards LGBT persons.”
While the Chronicle did not report whether Pelosi named specific people in her letter, the list of speakers on the march’s website includes former U.S. senator Rick Santorum, who has claimed repeal of sodomy laws would lead to legalized polygamy and incest; former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has equated gay men with pedophiles; Protestant clergyman Harry Jackson Jr., who has said, “Folks who cannot reproduce want to recruit your kids”; and another clergy member, Bill Owens Sr., who has said, “If it’s a civil right for a man to marry man, and a woman to marry woman, what’s the difference of a man deciding he wants to have sex with a dog?”
In urging Cordileone to skip the NOM event, Pelosi invoked the words of Pope Francis, saying, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”
Segal, in a column published on Philly.com, also made reference to the pope’s conciliatory attitude toward LGBT people. He styled his column as an open letter to Pope Francis, saying, “At the rally there will almost certainly be speakers who label the LGBT community as dangerous, a people of sin, immoral and inhuman – and these, your Holiness, are the polite terms.”
The Philadelphia Catholic archdiocese, Segal wrote, is the only one in the nation that has chartered buses to go to the march, at a cost of $5,000, and that the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is helping to promote the event. “This occurs at a time when the archdiocese is closing churches and schools,” he said.
The march also comes at a time when there has been a string of marriage equality victories in federal and state courts. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, NOM president Brian Brown claimed to be undaunted, although he and other marriage equality opponents appeared to accept the idea of some states allowing same-sex marriage.
“Brown, in a phone interview, said his best-case scenario hinged on a future ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the right of states to set their own marriage laws, rather than imposing same-sex marriage nationwide,” the AP reports. “Such a ruling would strengthen the position of the 31 states that currently ban gay marriage and might encourage grass-roots efforts in some of the other states to reimpose bans, Brown said.”
“We’d put this back in the hands of the democratic process, ” he told the news service. “We would have the people deciding for themselves. ”
Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with the antigay legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, also said he would not have problem with such a ruling. “America has not fallen apart because some states have same-sex marriage and others do not, ” he told the AP. “We’ve been managing that for 10 years.”