United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The “usual suspects” have issued an “ecumenical letter” which seems to  have originated with Salvatore J. Cordileone, the Bishop of Oakland (of Prop 8 fame). These days the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is carrying the water
that Focus on the Family used to be responsible for. The screed is modestly titled:

Marriage and Religious Freedom:  Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together. An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans.

This comes on the heels of an address by the Pope, two days earlier, that the bishops characterized as:
Pope Benedict XVI on Marriage and Religious Freedom. This is the current meme which is to characterize bigotry as essential for religious freedom. It is sheer nonsense!

The “ecumenical letter” attempts to do what the signatories cannot do which is to make a coherent argument that marriage equality has an adverse effect on society or traditional marriage. In an effort to do so, they trot out the same old three “outrages” that are many years old and have nothing, whatsoever, to do with same-sex marriage. You would think that they could come up with something in Massachusetts, Connecticut or even Iowa. How about something more current? These go as far back as 1996:

For example, in New Jersey, the state cancelled the tax-exempt status of a Methodist-run boardwalk pavilion used for religious services because the religious organization would not host a same-sex “wedding” there. San Francisco dropped its $3.5 million in social service contracts with the Salvation Army because it refused to recognize same-sex “domestic partnerships” in its employee benefits policies. Similarly, Portland, Maine, required Catholic Charities to extend spousal employee benefits to same-sex “domestic partners” as a condition of receiving city housing and community development funds.

  1. That “Methodist-run boardwalk pavilion” is a catering hall     a public accommodation off of church grounds. The tax exemption referred to is for property tax which was conditioned on the church’s written commitment to abide by New Jersey’s anti-discrimination code. Obviously, the assertion that this was a same-sex wedding (in New Jersey), braced in scare quotes, is a deliberate lie.
  2. The Salvation Army controversy goes back to a 1996 ordinance in the City of San Francisco. In 2001, the Salvation Army decided to allow its regional organizations to alter their policy based on local requirements. This led to a furious James Dobson led campaign that caused SA to rescind their decision.
  3. In May 2001, the city of Portland, Maine enacted an ordinance that requires
    organizations that receive funds from the city’s Housing and Community
    to provide equal benefits to same-sex partners as they offer
    to married spouses. Catholic Charities in
    Portland announced that they would not comply with the ordinance and
    lost city funds. We pay taxes and our tax dollars should not go towards enabling discrimination.

The signers of this letter have a problem; Marriage equality offends their religious ideology. Not content to practice their religion as they are free to do, they want to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else. That offends my constitutional beliefs.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.