Friday, October 24, 2008

San Diego Auxiliary Bishop Cordileone's Statement to City Council

I am very proud of my bishop. Please share this message far and wide. Dr J

Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone
Auxiliary Bishop
Catholic Diocese of San Diego

October 21, 2008

Dear Mayor Sanders and Members of the San Diego City Council,

Those of us who favor preserving marriage as the union of a man and a woman in California are wondering what ever happened to our democracy.

In 2000, 61% of voters – 4.6 million citizens – voted in favor of Proposition 22, which placed the traditional definition of marriage into the California Family Code. The will of the majority was overturned by four Supreme Court Justices on May 15th of this year. It is true that citizens should ensure that ballot propositions they present be able to pass constitutional muster. But defining marriage as it has been understood in every society since the beginning of the human race is hardly the stuff of which unconstitutional laws consist.

Trusting in the democratic process, many people expended vast resources of time, energy and capital to qualify the language of Proposition 22 as a constitutional amendment, and it was certified shortly after the Supreme Court decision as Proposition 8. Concerned about the confusion and legal quagmire that could result not only in California but all throughout the country due to same-sex marriages contracted between the time of the implementation of the decision and the hopeful passage of Prop 8, the attorney general was requested to stay the decision until after the election. Such an action would seem to be a common sense move to protect the public good. Nonetheless, he refused do so. Then, in an unprecedented move, he also changed the title of the proposition after its qualification for the ballot in a way that prejudices the wording as much as possible against the initiative.

Next, we hear of “Yes on 8” signs disappearing repeatedly, all throughout the state, with impunity. A pro-Prop 8 worker in Modesto was attacked, and so severely beaten he had to be rushed to the hospital and given stitches. And yet, not a peep from our elected officials decrying this violence and intolerance. A little over a year ago, a letter of mine was read in these very chambers when you were debating signing onto the Amicus curiae brief to urge our State Supreme Court to rule the traditional definition of marriage unconstitutional. In the letter, I stated that this issue was divisive, and we needed to unite our community; that point was rejected as being untrue. The experience over this last year has more than adequately demonstrated that it is true.

Now we find our City Council poised to speak for our entire city in taking a stand against Proposition 8. Have you taken a survey of the citizens of the San Diego area? The movement in support of Prop 8 began here in San Diego and has spread like an October wildfire all throughout the state. At this time, the polls indicate that supporters for Prop 8 outnumber its opponents. How can you presume to speak for the entire city when a majority – or at least, a very sizeable minority – is in favor? What would the other side think and feel if you voted to support Proposition 8? Why are our thoughts and feelings not worthy of equal consideration to theirs, especially when we can offer many rational, cogent arguments to justify our position? We support marriage because marriage benefits everyone; we abhor violence and unjust treatment against people who disagree with us. Nonetheless, we are accused of discrimination. Who, though, is being discriminated against now?

A little over two weeks ago, I stood on the same stage with some of you at the San Diego Organizing Project’s rally for our youth. I was happy to be there and even felt obliged to attend, because I can hardly recognize this city from what it was when I grew up here in the 1960’s. I could walk home alone from elementary school and fear no harm. My friends and I could play in the streets without our parents having to worry for our safety, and we all had secure homes to return to. That is why I was so gratified by your commitments to make the youth of our communities a top priority. What, though, can be a greater benefit to children and young people than growing up with their mother and father married to each other in a low-conflict relationship? We need to be supporting and strengthening the institution of marriage for the sake of children, not redefining and weakening it. Yes, many people find themselves as single parents through no fault of their own, and they need and deserve our praise and support for the sacrifices they make to give their children the best possible up bringing in less-than-ideal circumstances. But to intentionally deprive children of a mother and father is something quite different. After having made such laudatory and inspired commitments to our youth, please, do not now sell them down the river by telling them that it’s not important for them to have a mother and a father.

Please do not divide our community any more bitterly than it already is. Please do not betray the trust the public has placed in you. Please do not disenfranchise those who worked so hard to give Californians the opportunity to decide. Rather, please place principle over politics, and allow the democratic process to work, unencumbered and objectively. Please, do not give up on the idea that democracy is a good thing when allowed to work according to its principles. Please, let the people decide, fair and square.

Sincerely yours,

Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone
Auxiliary Bishop
Catholic Diocese of San Diego

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