SF Archbishop Makes No Apologies For Attending Anti-Gay Rally, Yet Asks For Open-Mindedness

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone responded today to an open letter signed by Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other state, city and faith and community leaders asking him to cancel his appearance at an upcoming rally against same-sex marriage.

The letter from last Tuesday asked Cordileone to not speak at the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

The National Organization for Marriage organized the rally and Cordileone is one of the speakers along with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

In his response, Cordileone indicated that he would attend as scheduled.

The event is described online as a march that “sends a clear message to every level of society that a majority of Americans still stand for marriage as it has been traditionally and historically defined and handed down through the centuries.

“In the face of elite and powerful special-interest groups bent on redefining this cherished institution, this March powerfully proclaims that marriage as the union of one man and one woman is our culture’s best means of linking mothers and fathers to one another and to their children,” the site continues.

Cordileone’s response, which started by explaining he received the letter while out of town and has since reflected on its writings, included four points outlining why he will attend the rally.

His first point stated that, “The March for Marriage is not “anti-LGBT” (as some have described it); it is not anti-anyone or anti-anything. 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.”

His following points addressed what he considered factual inaccuracies portrayed by the letter signers about what the NOM organization stands for and what his co-speakers believe about same sex-marriage.

He nearly conceded with a point that stated, “It gives me assurance that we share a common disdain for harsh and hateful rhetoric.”

He continued, “While it is true that free speech can be used to offend others, it is not so much people exercising their right to free speech that drives us further apart than people punished precisely for doing so that does.”

His final point touched on stereotypes and asked for more open-mindedness.

“Get to know us first as fellow human beings. I myself am willing to meet personally with any of you not only to dialogue, but simply so that we can get to know each other. It is the personal encounter that changes the vision of the other and softens the heart. In the end, love is the answer, and this can happen even between people with such deep disagreements. That may sound fanciful and far-fetched, but it is true, it is possible.”

He ended the letter, “Before you judge us, get to know us.”

In the initial letter, which also included signatures from Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, state Assemblymen Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros, San Francisco supervisors Scott Wiener, David Campos, Norman Yee and about 70 other leaders and organizations, it states, “We respect freedom of religion and understand that you oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples. But the actions and rhetoric of NOM, and those of the event’s speakers and co-sponsors, fundamentally contradict Christian belief in the fundamental human dignity of all people.”

An online petition has reached more than 28,200 signatures asking the archbishop to cancel his attendance Thursday.

The Faithful America advocacy site states, “We need to make it clear to Archbishop Cordileone that encouraging bigotry is unacceptable, regardless of his position on marriage for same-sex couples.”

The petition is available online at http://act.faithfulamerica.org/sign/cordileonerally.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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