ANN ARBOR, MI – A San Francisco City Board’s resolution virulently condemning the Catholic Church because of its moral teachings on homosexuality does not violate the Constitution’s prohibition of government hostility toward religion, so says a panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The anti-Catholic resolution, adopted March 21, 2006, was challenged by the Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian legal advocacy group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on behalf of the Catholic League and two Catholic residents of San Francisco. The Board’s resolution refers to the Vatican as a “foreign country” meddling in the affairs of the City and proclaims the Church’s moral teaching and beliefs on homosexuality as “insulting to all San Franciscans, ” “hateful, ” “insulting and callous, ” “defamatory, ” “absolutely unacceptable, ” “insensitive and ignoran.” Click here to read the City’s resolution.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center remarked, “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 too and laying the groundwork for more repressive policies, including the final solution of extermination. The policy of San Francisco is one of totalitarian intolerance of Christians of all denominations who oppose homosexual conduct. My concern is that if this ruling is allowed to stand, it will further embolden anti-Christian attacks.”
The Thomas More Law Center will seek en banc reconsideration (review by the full court) on behalf of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and two Catholic residents of San Francisco. If necessary, the case will be brought to the United States Supreme Court.
The Law Center’s lawsuit claimed that the City’s anti-Catholic resolution violated the First Amendment, which “forbids an official purpose to disapprove of a particular religion, religious beliefs, or of religion in general.” The Board’s resolution went so far as to urge the Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities of San Francisco to defy Church directives.
The unanimous decision by the 9th Circuit panel did have an interesting concurrence from Judge Berzon. In Judge Berzon’s concurring opinion, she states in part, “All of that said, I do find the result troublesome, and find much to agree with in Judge Noonan’s eloquent dissent in American Family . . . In particular, I am acutely aware 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, ’ . . . and that resolutions such as the ones in American Family and the one in this case are near – if not at – the line that separates establishment of such a policy.”
Thompson further observed, “This dismissal was based on grounds that the pleadings failed to state a claim under the rules of civil procedure. Although the panel correctly posited the rule that they must accept all of Plaintiffs’ allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the Plaintiffs, the court totally ignored the rule in its opinion and drew all inferences in favor the San Francisco including their intent in enacting the resolution without allowing Plaintiffs to engage in any discovery.”
Robert Muise, the Law Center attorney who argued the case, stated, “Our constitution plainly forbids hostility toward any religion, including the Catholic faith. 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.”
According to Catholic doctrine, allowing children to be adopted by homosexuals would actually mean doing violence to these 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. Such policies are gravely immoral and Catholic organizations must not place children for adoption in homosexual households.
The Law Center argued that 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.”