Monday, June 08, 2009

Gay Attack on the Church in California

Rich Maggi writes a précis on the homosexual attack on the Church in California:

In 2006, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution condemning Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality as hateful, insulting, callous, defamatory, insensitive, ignorant, and absolutely unacceptable. The resolution went so far as to urge the Archbishop and Catholic Charities to defy the teaching of the Church. When the resolution was challenged in federal court as an unconstitutional attack on religion, the judge held that the Catholic Church had committed a “provocation” by publicly opposing homosexual adoptions, and therefore had invited an official condemnation, which was a “responsible” reaction to the “terrible” things the Church says. This decision was appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Today, by a 3-0 vote, the Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the resolution “urging Cardinal William Levada, in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households.” The Court of Appeals determined that the city did not intend to condemn Catholicism, but rather acted out a secular motive of protecting persons from discrimination.

The reporting article:

S.F.'s blast at Vatican was legal, court says

Thursday, June 4, 2009

(06-03) 15:52 PDT SAN FRANCISCO --

San Francisco didn't cross into constitutionally forbidden territory of government hostility to religion when the Board of Supervisors denounced a Vatican order to Catholic Charities not to place adoptive children with same-sex couples, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 2006 resolution condemned the Vatican's "hateful and discriminatory rhetoric" and urged local church officials to defy the order by Cardinal William Levada. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sued, contending the city was expressing hostility toward Catholicism in violation of the Constitution.

A federal judge threw out the suit, a decision that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld Wednesday. It said the supervisors had acted for a legal secular purpose - to protect gay and lesbian couples from discrimination - and not to express the city's disapproval of Catholicism.

"The board's focus was on same-sex couples, not Catholics," Judge Richard Paez said in the 3-0 ruling. Promoting equal treatment for those couples in adoptions isn't anti-religious, he said, "regardless of whether the Catholic Church may be opposed to it as a religious tenet."

Judge Marsha Berzon, in a separate opinion, said the resolution was close to the constitutional boundary and might have been invalid if it contained binding regulations or was part of a "pervasive public campaign" against the Catholic Church.

The board passed the nonbinding resolution, sponsored by then-Supervisor Tom Ammiano, in March 2006, days after Levada, former archbishop of the San Francisco Archdiocese, issued his decree as leader of the church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Levada said Catholic agencies "should not place children for adoption in homosexual households." Quoting a statement by the Vatican office, he said allowing children to be adopted by same-sex couples "would actually mean doing violence to these children."

Ammiano's resolution called the decree "an insult to San Francisco." The supervisors urged Levada to withdraw his order and called on his successor as archbishop, George Niederauer, and the local Catholic Charities to disregard it.

In response, Catholic Charities of San Francisco stopped placing children for adoption, the same step it has taken in Massachusetts and other areas with similar nondiscrimination policies, said Brian Rooney, a lawyer at the Thomas More Law Center, which sued San Francisco on behalf of the Catholic League.

Rooney said the league would appeal Wednesday's ruling.

The supervisors' resolution would have led the public to believe that "the government is disfavoring of Catholicism," he said.

But Deputy City Attorney Vince Chhabria said the lawsuit sought to insulate the Vatican from criticism by government bodies.

"Religious groups are not entitled to preferential treatment in public debate," Chhabria said.

E-mail Bob Egelko at

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