Friday, November 6, 2009

"SF Versus the Catholics" Case to be Revisited

On Thursday, November 5, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals set aside a June, 2009 ruling that the City and County of San Francisco had not acted unconstitutionally by expressing an official hostility to religion . The ruling had been made by a three-judge panel. A majority of the judges on the Ninth Circuit has decided the case will get a rehearing by the full 11-judge panel.

The set-aside ruling concerned Resolution 168-06, issued in March 2006 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Resolution 168-06 responded to a statement by William Cardinal Levada that Catholic Charities of San Francisco should not allow adoptive children to be placed in same-sex households. Resolution 168-06 called the Vatican’s statement “hateful” and “discriminatory” and it urged Catholic Charities and local Catholic officials to disregard it.

On Friday, November 6, the San Francisco Chronicle reported: “Robert Muise, lawyer for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which requested the rehearing, said he would argue that the city was ‘intervening in church affairs.’" Muise also said the supervisors resolution "called on local Catholics to literally defy church teaching, to defy Catholic leaders." Muise is an attorney at the Thomas More Law Center.

The case has its genesis in Catholic Charities of San Francisco’s decision to place adoptive children in homosexual households. Resolution 168-06, sponsored by openly homosexual San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano, was in response to the Vatican’s statement that to allow children to be adopted into households where there was not a mother and a father, and no likelihood of there ever being a mother or father, amounted to “doing violence to the children.” The Vatican’s action was itself in response to Catholic Charities’ practice of placing children into just such households.

The battle resulted in the ill-advised “partnership,“ brokered by openly homosexual Supervisor Bevan Dufty, between Catholic Charities of San Francisco and Family Builders by Adoption. The partnership resulted in Catholic Charities’ funding and staffing Family Builders by Adoption, an organization which is required by contract with the City and County of San Francisco to “increasing the number of children adopted by Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) adults." This was referred to by Archdiocesan officials as “remote cooperation.”

On August 11, 2009, California Catholic Daily broke the story that Family Builders by Adoption was advertising for adoptive “fathers” on the leather s/m page of the homosexualist website the Bay Area Reporter and on the “porn” page of the homosexualist website the San Francisco Bay Times. The CCD story caused Trent Rohrer, Executive Director of San Francisco’s Human Services Agency to direct Family Builders by Adoption to pull the ads. At the time, Mr. Rohrer said “We work in collaboration with Family Builders to recruit adoptive homes for foster youth, However, we were not aware nor would we ever authorize the use of these ads for any type of inappropriate websites and publications. Efforts have been made to contact a representative from Family Builders. We are in the process of resolving this matter and plan to pull the ads immediately.”

When the partnership between Catholic Charities and Family Builders by Adoption was announced, it set off a firestorm of protest among Catholics, although CCCYO’s then-Executive Director Brian Cahill referred to it as a “great opportunity.” The partnership was dissolved in June, 2009.

For complete details on the case, go here.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

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