San Francisco's 'Anti-Catholic' Resolution Prompts Lawsuit

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A conservative public interest law firm is suing the city of San Francisco for its "startling attack" on the Catholic Church.

The lawsuit stems from an "anti-Catholic" resolution passed unanimously last month by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The resolution, according to the Thomas More Law Center, condemned the Catholic Church's moral teachings on homosexuality and urged Catholic leaders to defy Vatican directives telling Catholic agencies not to place children with same-sex couples.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and two San Francisco Catholic citizens, said the nonbinding resolution violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

San Francisco supervisors passed the resolution on March 21 after the Vatican's Cardinal-elect William Levada -- the former San Francisco archbishop -- said Catholic agencies "should not place children for adoption in homosexual households."

The resolution reads, "It is an insult to all San Franciscans when a foreign country, like the Vatican, meddles with and attempts to negatively influence this great city's existing and established customs and traditions, such as the right of same-sex couples to adopt and care for children in need."

The resolution called Vatican directives against homosexual adoptions "hateful and discriminatory rhetoric [that] is both insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors."

The resolution also called Levada "a decidedly unqualified representative of his former home city and of the people of San Francisco and the values they hold dear."

Anti-Catholic bigotry

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said the resolution's "demagoguery and virulent words...are reminiscent of the anti-Catholic bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan and the Know Nothings, which marred our nation's earlier history. San Francisco may as well have put up signs at the city limits: 'Faithful Catholics Not Welcomed," he added.

A 2003 Vatican statement said that "allowing children to be adopted by [same-sex couples] would actually mean doing violence to these children." According to the Law Center, the Vatican was trying to say that homosexual adoptions are not conducive to a child's full human development.

The lawsuit claims that the March 21 resolution "sends a clear message" to faithful Catholics "that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community," and it sends a second 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."

Robert Muise, the Law Center attorney handling the case, noted that the U.S. Constitution forbids hostility toward any religion. He said in San Francisco, "homosexual activists... are abusing their authority as government officials and misusing the instruments of government to attack the Catholic Church.

"This egregious abuse of power is an outrage and a clear violation of the First Amendment," Muise said.

The Thomas More Law Center describes its mission as the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.

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