San Francisco Roman Catholic archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, under pressure to skip Thursday’s March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., has responded to critics by saying the event is not antigay.
“The March for Marriage is not ‘anti-LGBT’ (as some have described it); it is not anti-anyone or anti-anything,” Cordileone wrote in a letter released Monday and obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. “Rather, it is a pro-marriage March. The latter does not imply the former. Rather, it affirms the great good of bringing the two halves of humanity together so that a man and a woman may bond with each other and with any children who come from their union. This is precisely the vision promoted by Pope Francis, who recently said, ‘We must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and mother.’ Rest assured that if the point of this event were to single out a group of individuals and target them for hatred, I most certainly would not be there.”
The march’s lead sponsor is the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples. Among the cosponsors is the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group because of the misinformation it spreads about LGBT people. Several high-profile politicians, including U.S. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, California lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom, and San Francisco mayor Ed Lee, as well as many LGBT rights groups have called on Cordileone to cancel plans to speak at the event.
Speakers at the march and rally will include numerous antigay political and religious figures, such as former U.S. senator Rick Santorum, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. representative Tim Huelskamp, New York State senator Ruben Diaz Sr., Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., NOM president Brian Brown, and Frank Schubert, the political consultant who guided the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in California in 2008. During the Prop. 8 campaign, Cordileone, then bishop of San Diego, was a key supporter and fundraiser for the anti–marriage equality ballot measure. At the time, he said, “The ultimate attack of the Evil One is the attack on marriage.” Cordileone leads the U.S. Catholic bishops’ effort against marriage equality, and he supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Those urging Cordileone to skip the event have cited the virulently antigay rhetoric of the groups and individuals involved. In his letter, responding to Newsom, Lee, and others, he said, “While I cannot go into all of the details here of your allegations against the sponsors of this event and scheduled speakers, I do know that at least some of what you say is based on misinterpretation or is simply factually incorrect. For example, it is not true that the National Organization for Marriage connects homosexuality with pedophilia and incest.”
He also asserted that people “taking a stand for marriage as it has been understood in every human society for millennia” have suffered job losses, violence, and other forms of retribution. He concluded by asking his critics, “Please do not make judgments based on stereotypes, media images and comments taken out of context. Rather, get to know us first as fellow human beings. … Before you judge us, get to know us.”