Correction: The Rev. Harry Knox is ordained through the Metropolitan Community Church. He is a past interim executive director of Integrity, the voice of LGBT Episcopalians and their allies.
A variety of politicians and religious leaders, including some Episcopalians, have failed to persuade the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco to withdraw from a pro-marriage march and rally scheduled for June 19.
The leaders wrote to Archbishop Salvatore Cordiolene on June 10 to discourage his participation in the rally, which is sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The San Francisco Chronicle obtained a copy of their letter and made it public [PDF].
Episcopalians signing the letter included the Very Rev. Brian Baker, dean of Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento; and the Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr., Bishop of Michigan.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House who has spoken often of her faith, pressured her archbishop not to participate in the march.
“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,” the letter said.
“NOM has a long and well-documented history of publishing material that connects homosexuality with pedophilia and incest and falsely suggests that gays and lesbians are trying to ‘inculcate children.’ Likewise, the Family Research Council, which is co-sponsoring the event, has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of their vitriolic rhetoric; recently, a spokesperson for FRC blamed the growing acceptance of marriage for same sex couples for the Isla Vista mass shootings.”
Archbishop Cordiolene responded with an open letter [PDF] six days later, saying that “at least some of what you say is based on misinterpretation or is simply factually incorrect.”
He added: “For example, it is not true that the National Organization for Marriage connects homosexuality with pedophilia and incest. What is true is that three years ago a conference was sponsored in Baltimore by the group B4U-ACT for the purpose of finding ways to encourage tolerance for pedophilia. A statement on NOM’s blogpost objecting to this conference affirmed that this is something that would outrage people in the gay community as well. Unfortunately, many conclusions are being drawn about those involved in the March for Marriage based on false impressions.
“It gives me assurance that we share a common disdain for harsh and hateful rhetoric. It must be pointed out, though, that there is plenty of offensive rhetoric which flows in the opposite direction. In fact, for those who support the conjugal understanding of marriage, the attacks have not stopped at rhetoric. Simply for taking a stand for marriage as it has been understood in every human society for millennia, people have lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods, and have suffered other types of retribution, including physical violence. It is true that historically in our society violence has been perpetrated against persons who experience attraction to members of the same sex, and this is to be deplored and eradicated. Sadly, though, we are now beginning to see examples, although thankfully not widespread, of even physical violence against those who hold to the conjugal view of marriage (such as, most notably, the attempted gunning down of those who work in the offices of the Family Research Council). 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.”