San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone’s decision to speak at the “March for Marriage” an anti-gay marriage rally organized by NOM (National Organization for Marriage) on June 19 has caused quite a stir in Catholic circles. Many are imploring the Archbishop to reconsider his decision to speak at the event, citing Pope Francis’s “Who am I to judge?” attitude towards homosexuality, though it is doubtful that the Pope’s words marked a new understanding in the Catholic Church on the issue. Cordileone’s willingness to ignore liberal trends in the church and to partner with more extreme anti-gay groups such as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) should not come as a surprise to those following the Catholic Church’s involvement in the marriage equality battle here in Rhode Island.
Bishop Thomas Tobin trailblazed these efforts over a year ago.
Back in January 2013 I reported that the Providence Diocese made the unfortunate decision to partner with NOM and MassResistance as part of a group calling itself the Faith Alliance to Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage as Established by God. At the time, I was surprised to see the Catholic Church openly aligning itself with MassResistance, a Southern Poverty Law Center certified hate group.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center told me “In our experience, it is highly unusual for the Catholic Church to work with groups like MassResistance, which has repeatedly, and utterly falsely, linked homosexuality to pedophilia, among other things. This is a group that lumps homosexuality in with criminal behaviors like bestiality, claims gay people are dangerous to children, and says, again falsely, that no gay people were murdered in the Holocaust. I should add, however, that we’ve not seen any real history of the Catholic Church working with hate groups. It may be that in this case they’ve simply failed to look into the background of the group they’re allying themselves with. At least I hope so.”
Whether or not NOM is a hate group on par with MassResistance is an open question to some, (though I am of the opinion that they are just sneakier in broadcasting their hate and intolerance, constantly skirting the line.) The one unifying presence in both the Rhode Island and San Francisco cases is NOM operative Christopher Plante, who led the coalition in a failed bid to prevent marriage equality in Rhode Island, and said to the Christian Post in April, that the March on Marriage event is aimed at showing ‘the world, the media, members of Congress and the Supreme Court that the marriage debate is not over. There is a huge groundswell of popular support, popular belief in traditional marriage. And despite what the polls may say, the reality is the majority of Americans believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”
Cordileone, defending his decision to attend the march in Washington, weakly claims that the event is “not ‘anti-LGBT’ … it is not anti-anyone or anti-anything,” but if the history here in Rhode Island is any indication, NOM operatives like Christopher Plante seek the endorsement of institutions like the Catholic Church to provide cover for their alliances with hate groups like MassResistance and other groups that spread ugly smears and lies about our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Cordileone should weigh the political consequences of selling his status as a church leader so cheaply.
This weekend, as Rhode Island celebrates Pride, we should continue to encourage tolerance and acceptance rather than bigotry and hate, and we can only hope that in the future the Catholic Church will be on the right side of that equation.