Authorities in San Francisco who called the beliefs of the Catholic Church “hateful,” “callous,” and an “insult,” – and urged members to disobey them – have been given the go-ahead by a panel of judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to express such hate because it serves a “secular” purpose.
“It is not a stretch to compare the San Francisco Board’s actions to that of the Nazi Germany policy of ‘Gleichschaltung:’ vilifying Jews as an auxiliary to and laying the groundwork for more repressive policies, including the final solution of extermination,” said Richard Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which represented the Catholic League and several individuals in the church in their complaint against the city.
“The policy of San Francisco is one of totalitarian intolerance of Christians of all denominations who oppose homosexual conduct,” Thompson continued. “My concern is that if this ruling is allowed to stand, it will further embolden anti-Christian attacks.”
In fact, WND has reported in recent days on a campaign to notify members of the U.S. Senate of the problems that could come from a bill that already has passed the U.S. House and is pending in the Senate. Critics confirm that it would allow the actual criminalization of criticism when it is directed to homosexuality.
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would provide special protections to homosexual people but leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their teachings be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a homosexual person. Sen. Jim DeMint., R-S.C., today confirmed he’ll formally oppose the plan in the Senate.
The current opinion from the court stemmed from a resolution adopted by the board of supervisors for the city in 2006. In it, officials formally condemned the Vatican’s statement that placing children under the control of homosexuals in adoption cases should not be done because such situations “actually mean doing violence to these children.”
Such statements, the board said, are “hateful and discriminatory,” “insulting and callous,” and “shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this board…”
Further, it insisted “same-sex couples are just as qualified to be parents as are heterosexual couples,” and the Catholic archdiocese should “defy all discriminatory directives.”
The Thomas More Law Center said it would seek en banc reconsideration of the case and if needed, go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“There is no doubt it sets a tone for people to vilify and attack the church,” Brian Rooney, a spokesman for the law center, told WND. “That can easily lead to violence.
“This was a call to action to all San Francisco Catholics to disobey the teachings of the church,” he said.
The anti-Catholic resolution, adopted March 21, 2006, condemned the Vatican as a “foreign country” and accused it of meddling in the affairs of the city. It said the church’s moral teachings on homosexuality are “insulting to all San Franciscans,” “defamatory,” and “insensitive.”
The law center’s lawsuit said the resolution violated the First Amendment, which “forbids an official purpose to disapprove of a particular religion, religious beliefs, or of religion in general.”
In defending its statement, the city argued in court that it was pursuing the “secular” purpose of advocating for same-sex adoptions. The court simply agreed.
“To be sure, the board could have spoken with a gentler tone, but the strength of the board’s language alone does not transform a secular purpose into a religious one,” the court’s opinion, written by Judge Richard Paez and joined by Procter Hug Jr. and Marsha Berzon, said.
Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue told WND the comments denouncing church doctrine were “incredible invective and bigoted comments.”
“This is beyond belief. It clearly is a hostile environment,” he said. He said it also, just as clearly, is a tolling of what will be happening under “hate crime” laws.
“No question about it. The Mormons spoke out on Prop 8 (a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman), as did evangelicals (and were attacked),” he said.
“If you had a Catholic using this type of inflammatory language maligning the character of the government, the entire city would be up in arms,” he said.
According to Catholic doctrine, allowing children to be adopted by homosexuals would actually mean doing violence to the children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development, the law center explained. Such policies are gravely immoral and Catholic organizations must not place children for adoption in homosexual households, it continued.
The “anti-Catholic resolution sends a clear message to plaintiffs and others who are faithful adherents to the Catholic faith that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message that those who oppose Catholic religious beliefs, particularly with regard to homosexual unions and adoptions by homosexual partners, are insiders, favored members of the political community,” the law firm said.
The organization noted that in her concurrence, Berzon expressed concern that the Constitution “assures religious believers that units of government will not take positions that amount to the establishment of a policy condemning their religious belief.”
“Our Constitution plainly forbids hostility toward any religion, including the Catholic faith,” said Robert Muise, the law center attorney who argued the case. “In total disregard for the Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of authority in San Francisco have abused their authority as government officials and misused the instruments of the government to attack the Catholic church. Their egregious abuse of power now has the backing of a federal circuit court. This decision must be reversed. Unfortunately, all too often we see a double standard being applied in Establishment Clause cases.”
The court, however, saw the issue through a different lens.
“An objective observer would conclude that the
board’s purpose was to champion needy children, gays, lesbians,
and same-sex couples within its jurisdiction; not to officially
disapprove of the Catholic faith or its religious tenets,” the opinion said.
The ruling cited from its own earlier decision in a case where city officials criticized other Christian organizations.
“We concluded that the
defendants’ actions had a plausible secular purpose and the
primary effect of the documents in question was ‘encouraging
equal rights for gays and discouraging hate crimes,'” the court said.
The fact that San Francisco’s “secular” position regarding homosexuality is “at odds with certain religious views,” isn’t a factor.
“It is well within the board’s secular purview to promote adoptions of children by same-sex couples and denounce discrimination for the ‘general welfare of society,'” the court said.
The pending “hate crimes” plan in the Senate is the target of an organized letter-writing campaign that has already generated more than 560,000 individual letters sent by Fed Ex to all 100 U.S. senators.
The effort, organized by WND columnist Janet Porter, who also heads the Faith2Action Christian ministry, permits activists to send individually addressed letters to all 100 senators over their own “signature” for only $10.95.
WND has provided multiple reports on what is at stake when the Senate considers a national hate crimes proposal that is to add special penalties against individuals guilty of crimes based on ethnic, religious and racial hatred – and new classifications based on sexual orientation. The legislation has been described by critics as “The Pedophile Protection Act.”
Barack Obama recently promised homosexual murder victim Matthew Shepard’s mother fast action in the U.S. Senate to approve the bill. Judy Shepard visited the White House to lobby for Senate approval after it cleared the House with opposition from many Republicans.
The White House issued an official comment on the meeting: “The President thanked Ms. Shepard for her work on the hate crimes bill and reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the Senate finalize the bill and act swiftly.
Sources working with senators opposing the legislation say the campaign has shaken up the dynamics of the debate.
“This bill was supposed to sail through the Senate, but it suddenly has become much more controversial as a result of all these letters,” one source said. “Still, not a single Republican senator has yet stood up in open, public opposition to the bill.”
As WND has reported, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would provide special protections to homosexual people but leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their statements be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a homosexual person.
Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said the only chance to defeat the legislation was for a massive outpouring of opposition from the American people.
“If you guys don’t raise enough stink there’s no chance of stopping it,” Gohmert said on a radio program with Porter. “It’s entirely in the hands of your listeners and people across the country. If you guys put up a strong enough fight, that will give backbone enough to the 41 or 42 in the Senate to say we don’t want to have our names on that.”
An analysis by Shawn D. Akers, policy analyst with Liberty Counsel said the proposal, formally known as H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act bill in the House and S. 909 in the Senate, would create new federal penalties against those whose “victims” were chosen based on an “actual or perceived … sexual orientation, gender identity.”
Gohmert warned Porter during the interview that even her introduction of him, and references to the different sexual orientations, could be restricted if the plan becomes law.
“You can’t talk like that once this becomes law,” he said.
He said the foundational problem with the bill is that it is based on lies: It assumes there’s an epidemic of crimes in the United States – especially actions that cross state lines – that is targeting those alternative sexual lifestyles.
“When you base a law on lies, you’re going to have a bad law,” he said. “This ‘Pedophilia Protection Act,’ a ‘hate crimes’ bill, is based on the representation that there’s a epidemic of crimes based on bias and prejudice. It turns out there are fewer crimes now than there were 10 years ago.”
He said he fought in committee and in the House to correct some of the failings, including his repeated requests for definitions in the bill for terms such as “sexual orientation.”
Majority Democrats refused, he said. He said that leaves the definition up to a standard definition in the medical field, which includes hundreds of “philias” and “isms” that would be protected.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., a “hate crimes” supporter, confirmed that worry, saying: “This bill addresses our resolve to end violence based on prejudice and to guarantee that all Americans regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability or all of these ‘philias’ and fetishes and ‘ism’s’ that were put forward need not live in fear because of who they are. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this rule…”
Obama, supported strongly during his campaign by homosexual advocates, appears ready to respond to their desires.
“I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance,” he said.
But Gohmert pointed out that if an exhibitionist flashes a woman, and she responds by slapping him with her purse, he has probably committed a misdemeanor while she has committed a federal felony hate crime.
“That’s how ludicrous this situation is,” Gohmert said.
During arguments in the House while the plan was being adopted, lawmakers pointed out the representatives were voting for protection for “all 547 forms of sexual deviancy or ‘paraphilias’ listed by the American Psychiatric Association.”
Porter cited the amendment offering from King in committee that was very simple: “The term sexual orientation as used in this act or any amendments to this act does not include pedophilia.”
But majority Democrats refused to accept it.
“Having reviewed cases as an appellate judge, I know that when the legislature has the chance to include a definition and refuses, then what we look at is the plain meaning of those words,” explained Gohmert. “The plain meaning of sexual orientation is anything to which someone is orientated. That could include exhibitionism, it could include necrophilia (sexual arousal/activity with a corpse) … it could include urophilia (sexual arousal associated with urine), voyeurism. You see someone spying on you changing clothes and you hit them, they’ve committed a misdemeanor, you’ve committed a federal felony under this bill. It is so wrong.”