Roman Catholic Leaders Continue to Oppose Equality for LGBT People

Many members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy have long held positions that denied equality to LGBT people, even while stating that they respect the humanity and dignity of all people. Comments by several prominent leaders make it hard to believe that they truly respect the rights or conscience of those who disagree with their anti-equality beliefs.

Gay and lesbian Roman Catholics in San Francisco are concerned after Pope Benedict XVI announced recently that Salvatore Cordileone will be the next leader of the Catholic Church in San Francisco, as well as the neighboring San Mateo and Marin counties. Cordileone is best known as one of the “architects” of Proposition 8, which succeeded in banning marriage equality in California with the help of unmatched support from both the Roman Catholic and Mormon Churches. Cordileone has been outspoken in his belief that gay men and lesbians who are not celibate should be denied communion, calling relationships between people of the same gender a “misuse [of] the gift of sexuality.” He also ascribes to the principles outlined by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote in a 1986 letter that attraction to people of the same gender is “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” Most recently, Cordileone has been applying pressure for members of Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry to sign an invasive loyalty oath. Ernest Camisa, spokesman for Dignity/San Francisco, worries that Cordileone was placed in San Francisco in order to influence city politics against LGBT equality.

In related news, many Roman Catholics are dismayed to see Cardinal Francis George once again in the news for making untruthful public statements about LGBT people. Earlier this year, Cardinal George came under fire for comparing the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan, a statement for which he was eventually forced to apologize. Now he is back in the news for a speech in which he alludes to relationships between people of the same gender as merely friendships, saying “There must surely be ways in our civil society, where we can honor friendships, where we can respect other people, without destroying the nature of marriage.” Cardinal George then goes on to claim that, “while civil laws might change – if they do – then society will be the worse for it.” Equality Illinois released a statement addressing Cardinal George’s comments. Randy Hannig, Equality Illinois’ Director of Public Policy states:

Just as marriage equality will not impose any requirement on any religion, Cardinal George should not continue to urge that his singular vision of marriage be embodied in civil law to be imposed on everyone else […]Numerous faith leaders and other religious practices recognize the right of lesbian and gay people to marry, yet the cardinal argues that his belief supersedes what other religions should be able to practice and should continue to be embodied in secular law

Unfortunately, Seattle’s Archbishop, J. Peter Sartain appears to agree with Cardinal George.  He recently released a four minute video in which he claims that, “should marriage be redefined in our state the very foundational nature of marriage for the good and strength of human society would be harmed beyond repair."

Legalizing marriage equality does not force the Roman Catholic Church to perform weddings. While it is true that members of the church hierarchy oppose marriage equality, they are clearly out of step with the vast majority of Catholics who support LGBT people. Many other religious groups are supportive of marriage equality and full acceptance of LGBT people. For a sampling of LGBT faith organizations, see GLAAD’s Religion, Faith, & Values page or contact